INTERROGATION OF JUVENILES
The circumstances surrounding the questioning of a student by adult authority figures must be very carefully and factually determined so as to decide if the student was "in custody" and the state statutes and cases on what constitutes "in custody."
In a 1995 Indiana case in which a 13-year-old student eligible for special education and related services got into an altercation. His special education teacher, based on his IEP, had him "write down" what happened and how he could have handled the matter better. This document was then turned over the police as his "confession" for purposes of a juvenile investigation and assault charges. The attorney moved to suppress the confession in juvenile court on the basis that the child was, under the circumstances, "in custody," and the juvenile court judge threw it out. The reason was that the child did NOT feel free to leave, the special education teacher had been instructed to have him write up the information by the school police liaison and thus was acting as an agent of the police.
Keep in mind that many state's juvenile codes have a provision requiring that a child have the ability to consult with a parent or guardian before being questioned by law enforcement. In Indiana, we have such a statute, and our juvenile code is patterned after a model juvenile code. The remedy is usually exclusion of the statement in delinquency proceedings. However, that rule doesn't always apply in the educational realm.
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