In Re K.D.L., 207 N.C. App. 453 (Oct. 19, 2010)

The trial court erred by denying a juvenile’s motion to suppress when the juvenile’s confession was made in the course of custodial interrogation but without the warnings required by Miranda and G.S. 7B-2101(a), and without being apprised of and afforded his right to have a parent present. Following In re J.D.B., 363 N.C. 664 (2009), a case that was later reversed, the court concluded that when determining whether in-school questioning amounted to a custodial interrogation, the juvenile’s age was not relevant. The court found that that the juvenile was in custody, noting that he knew that he was suspected of a crime, he was questioned by a school official for about six hours, mostly in the presence of an armed police officer, and he was frisked by the officer and transported in the officer’s vehicle to the principal’s office where he remained alone with the officer until the principal arrived. Although the officer was not with the juvenile at all times, the juvenile was never told that he was free to leave. Furthermore, the court held that although the principal, not the officer, asked the questions, an interrogation occurred, noting that the officer’s conduct significantly increased the likelihood that the juvenile would produce an incriminating response to the principal’s questioning. The court concluded that the officer’s near-constant supervision of the juvenile’s interrogation and “active listening” could cause a reasonable person to believe that the principal’s interrogation was done in concert with the officer or that the person would endure harsher criminal punishment for failing to answer.