Skip to content
Name: In re Art T.
Case #: B251083
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 7
Opinion Date: 02/11/2015

Thirteen-year-old’s statement during custodial interrogation—”Could I have an attorney?”—is an unambiguous invocation of his right to counsel. During a murder investigation, detectives questioned Art T., who was 13 years old at the time. After being read his Miranda rights, Art T. denied involvement in the murder. When the detectives showed him a surveillance video that captured the murder unfolding, Art T. said, “Could I have an attorney? Because that’s not me.” However, detectives continued the interrogation. They falsely claimed that Art T.’s mother had already identified him in the video, and refused his repeated requests to call or speak with his mother. Finally, Art T. confessed that he had shot at a group of people because he thought they were from a rival gang. A Welfare and Institutions Code section 602 petition charged Art T. with murder and other offenses. He unsuccessfully moved the juvenile court to suppress his confession under Miranda v. Arizona (1966) 384 U.S. 436, 474. The juvenile court sustained the petition. Art T. appealed. Held: Reversed. If a person subject to custodial interrogation unambiguously invokes his or her right to counsel, all questioning must cease until an attorney is present. In this case the Court of Appeal concluded that a court should consider a juvenile’s age for purposes of analyzing whether the juvenile unambiguously invoked his or her right to counsel. (See J.D.B. v. North Carolina (2011) 564 U.S. ___.) Specifically, the objective inquiry is whether “a reasonable officer in light of the circumstances known to the officer or that would have been objectively apparent to a reasonable officer, including the juvenile’s age, would understand the statement by the juvenile to be a request for an attorney.” Here, the detectives knew that Art T. was 13 years old and lacked maturity because he had made repeated requests during the interrogation to speak with his mother. A reasonable officer would have understood Art T.’s statement to be an invocation. The error in admitting the statement was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.