Is a juvenile entitled to have Miranda rights read to them before being interrogated?

A juvenile is entitled to have their Miranda rights read to them if they are being held in custody and being interrogated by a law enforcement officer. Law enforcement officers are required to state Miranda rights to a juvenile in a language that the juvenile understands.

Arresting a juvenile can begin the process of holding them in custody. The term “custody” means that a reasonable person would not consider themselves free to leave. A juvenile's understanding of “custody” differs depending on their age and mental abilities.

If a juvenile is taken into custody, the arresting officer is required to make a good faith effort to locate a parent or guardian of the juvenile. The arresting officer must explain to this person that the juvenile is in custody. They must also state the delinquent act that the juvenile is alleged to have committed and advise the adult of the juvenile's Miranda rights.

The issue of custody is muddled when it comes to schools. School employees do not have to advise a juvenile of the juvenile's Miranda rights. The exception is if the school employee acts as an agent of a law enforcement officer. This is becoming increasingly common. There are now many law enforcement officers at schools. These police officers or sheriff's deputies are often called “school resource officers” or SROs. SROs often work with school employees to ask students about alleged offenses. The juvenile may not have committed the offenses at school.

If a SRO directs a school employee to interrogate a juvenile while holding the juvenile in custody, the juvenile may have made statements without being read their Miranda rights by a law enforcement officer. A juvenile can move to suppress statements that they have made without being advised of their Miranda rights by a law enforcement officer.