State v. JAVIER M.

Decision Date26 September 2001
Docket NumberNo. 26,593.,26,593.
PartiesSTATE of New Mexico, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. JAVIER M., Defendant-Petitioner.
CourtNew Mexico Supreme Court

Patricia Madrid, Attorney General, Anita Carlson, Assistant Attorney General, Santa Fe, NM, for Plaintiff-Respondent.

Phyllis H. Subin, Chief Public Defender, Carolyn R. Glick, Assistant Appellate Defender, Santa Fe, NM, for Defendant-Petitioner.


BACA, Justice.

{1} The Child, Javier M., appeals his adjudication for minor in possession of alcoholic beverages contrary to NMSA 1978, § 60-7B-1(C) (1998) ("It is a violation of the Liquor Control Act for a minor to ... possess or permit himself to be served with alcoholic beverages."). The Child asserts that the incriminating statements he made to a police officer while he was detained and not free to leave were obtained in violation of NMSA 1978, § 32A-2-14 (1993). Hence, the Child argues that his statements should not have been admitted as evidence to support his adjudication. We granted certiorari pursuant to Rule 12-502 NMRA 2001 to address whether Section 32A-2-14 provides children with broader rights than those guaranteed by Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966). After careful analysis, we find that Section 32A-2-14 evinces a legislative intent to expand the rights of children beyond those embodied in Miranda jurisprudence. Thus, we conclude that a child need not be under custodial interrogation in order to trigger the protections of the statute. Instead, we find that the protections are triggered when a child is subject to an investigatory detention. Therefore, Section 32A-2-14 requires that, prior to questioning, a child who is detained or seized and suspected of wrongdoing must be advised that he or she has the right to remain silent and that anything said can be used in court. If a child is not advised of the right to remain silent and warned of the consequence of waiving that right, any statement or confession obtained as a result of the detention or seizure is inadmissible in any delinquency proceeding. See § 32A-2-14(D). In the present case, since Javier M. was subject to an investigatory detention and not advised of his right to remain silent, we hold that the incriminating statements he made in response to police questioning are inadmissible and should not have been used to support the Children's Court's finding of delinquency. Accordingly, we reverse the Child's adjudication.


{2} On or about September 17, 1999, at approximately 2:00 a.m., Officer Helton and his partner were dispatched to an apartment in Hobbs, New Mexico, in response to a loud music complaint. As the officers approached the building, they could hear loud music coming from inside the apartment and observed a female sitting on the stairwell outside the open door of the apartment. When the female saw the officers approaching, she yelled "Five O" (slang for police), ran into the apartment, and closed the door. The music was turned off and as the officers approached they could hear people "scuffling" around inside. Officer Helton also testified that he could smell alcohol and marijuana coming from inside the apartment. The officers knocked on the apartment door, but no one answered. They called for backup and continued to wait outside the apartment for approximately twenty minutes until someone answered the door. When the door was finally opened, Officer Helton testified that he could smell a stronger odor of alcohol and marijuana and saw several empty beer cans around the apartment. There were approximately ten to fifteen individuals inside. Officer Helton, his partner, and other officers who had arrived,1 entered the apartment and began separating those individuals who were under eighteen from the adults. The officers determined that all of the individuals who were seventeen and younger would receive citations for curfew violations and be taken home.2

{3} Officer Helton first had contact with the Child, Javier M., in the living room of the apartment. The Child was sitting on the couch and neither appeared to be intoxicated nor possessed any beer or other alcoholic beverage. Officer Helton testified, however, that he detected the smell of alcohol on the Child's breath or clothing. In Officer Helton's opinion, there was no question that the Child had consumed alcohol. Officer Helton then asked the Child to step outside onto the stairwell of the apartment. Once on the stairwell, the officer asked the Child his name, his age, and whether he had consumed any alcohol. The Child answered the officer's questions and admitted that he had consumed two beers. Officer Helton issued the Child citations for violating the curfew ordinance and for minor in possession of alcohol. The officer did not recall in what order he asked the Child the questions or which citation he issued first. After the Child was issued the citations he was taken home by another officer.

{4} Officer Helton testified that once contact was made at the apartment, the Child was not free to leave and would not be released until he was taken to his home and a parent or guardian could be contacted. The officer, however, did not recall telling the Child that he was not free to leave. At no time was the Child placed under formal arrest, given Miranda warnings, advised of his basic rights pursuant to Section 32A-2-14(C), or asked to waive his rights.

{5} The Child was fifteen years old at the time of the incident. A Petition was filed in Children's Court alleging a violation of Section 60-7B-1C, minor permitting himself to receive and be served alcoholic beverages. The Child filed a motion to suppress his statements admitting that he had consumed alcohol, arguing that the officer interrogated him prior to giving him Miranda warnings and prior to advising him of his basic rights under the Children's Code. Following the hearing on the motion, the Children's Court concluded that the Child's Miranda rights were not violated because the protections of Miranda were not triggered since the Child was not subject to custodial interrogation. The Child was thereafter found to be delinquent by a special master and committed to a youth facility for one year. The Child appealed the finding of delinquency to the Court of Appeals, asserting that his statements should not have been admitted as evidence to support his delinquency since the officer did not advise him of his basic rights pursuant to Section 32A-2-14(C) of the Children's Code. See State v. Javier M., NMCA 21,568, slip op. (Sept. 20, 2000).

{6} The Court of Appeals agreed with the Children's Court and held that there was "no violation of the Child's right to Miranda warnings as he was never in custody and there was no custodial interrogation." Id. at 1-2. Moreover, the court rejected the Child's argument that Section 32A-2-14(C) required that a child suspected of a crime must be given Miranda warnings even if the child is not in custody or under arrest. Id. at 2. Instead, the Court of Appeals held that Section 32A-2-14 "is really nothing more than a codification of Miranda ... [and][t]hus, there is no requirement that the child be given Miranda warnings when the police initiate contact and are trying to determine whether there has been a violation of law." Id. The Child sought certiorari in this Court.


{7} The Child presents two issues on appeal in this Court. First, the Child asserts that Section 32A-2-14(C) of the Children's Code "requires that a child be given Miranda warnings before being questioned regarding suspected delinquent activity even if the child is not under arrest." Alternatively, the Child argues that even if the Children's Code does not provide him with greater protection than is afforded under Miranda, under a pure Miranda analysis the Child's statements should have been suppressed because he was subject to custodial interrogation without first being admonished of his constitutional rights under Miranda. The State argues that the Child failed to preserve these issues for appeal and, therefore, requests that this Court decline review of this case.

{8} Initially, the State asserts that the Child failed to adequately preserve whether Section 32A-2-14(C) provides greater protection to juveniles because the Child merely cited both Miranda and Section 32A-2-14 without arguing that there was any distinction between them. As support for its argument, the State cites State v. Gomez, 1997-NMSC-006, ¶ 22, 122 N.M. 777, 932 P.2d 1, and State v. Paul T., 1999-NMSC-037, ¶ 13, 128 N.M. 360, 993 P.2d 74. Unlike the present case however, the defendants in Gomez and Paul T. sought greater constitutional protection of their individual liberties under the New Mexico Constitution than would be available under the federal Constitution. In contrast, the Child in the instant case does not seek greater constitutional protection under our state constitution, but instead simply asserts that the Legislature, by enacting Section 32A-2-14(C), intended to provide children with broader rights under the statute. Therefore, the Child's claim is not subject to the more stringent preservation requirement required by Gomez. 1997-NMSC-006, ¶¶ 22-23, 122 N.M. 777, 932 P.2d 1 (holding that when a party seeks greater protection under the state constitution, the party must also assert in the trial court that "the state constitutional provision at issue should be interpreted more expansively than the federal counterpart and provide reasons for interpreting the state provision differently from the federal provision"). Instead, the Child is subject to our general preservation requirement as set forth in Rule 12-216(A) NMRA 2001 that requires only that a "ruling or decision by the district court was fairly invoked."

{9} The facts and arguments presented in the Children's Court were sufficient to meet the basic requirements of Rule 12-216(A). In the Child's motion to suppress,...

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