An Ohio court of appeals has reversed the conviction of a juvenile convicted of rape. The court found that the juvenile’s statements were obtained in violation of his Miranda rights.
The case is In re J.S., 2012-Ohio-3534.
The juvenile, a thirteen year old boy, was found to have committed rape by the Clermont County Juvenile Court.
At the trial, a witness testified that the juvenile and the female juvenile victim were in an upstairs bedroom at the witness’ apartment. When the witness heard a door close upstairs, “which was against house rules,” she went upstairs to check on the children. The witness observed the victim “standing with her panties and pantyhose pulled down to her boots. [The juvenile] was next to [the victim] with his hands and mouth around [her] vaginal area.” The victim said that the juvenile had “touched her boo-boo” while pointing toward her vaginal area.
The juvenile argued that a statements he made to the police should have been suppressed because he was never advised of his Miranda rights. In addition, he argued that the statements were not voluntary.
Miranda only applies when a person is in custody. The Juvenile Court found that he was not in custody at the time he made his statements. The court of appeals disagreed, finding that he was in custody for the purposes of Miranda. The court said:
First, there is no evidence in the record that appellant voluntarily went to the police station. Rather, his father was instructed by police officers to follow them to the Union Township Police Department so that [the juvenile] could be questioned. Second, [the juvenile] was only 13 at the time of the interview and, consequently, there was a likelihood that appellant was unaware of his rights, including the right to be silent or request a lawyer. Third, although [the officer] testified at the adjudication hearing that he informed [the juvenile] he was not under arrest, the videotape of the interview reveals that no such statement was made. Rather, [the officer] stated only that [the juvenile] would be returning home after the interview, implying at times that the interview would end once [the juvenile] finally told the truth. Further, [the officer] never told appellant that he had the right to end the interview at any time.
The case was remanded to the Juvenile Court for a new trial. Also: read coverage in the Cincinnati media.