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Name: In re T.F.
Case #: A144085
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 10/16/2017

Juvenile court erred by admitting minor’s confession because minor did not voluntarily waive his Miranda rights under officer’s aggressive and intimidating interrogation. T.F., a minor, was accused of committing a lewd act on a 4-year-old when he was 13 years old. During their investigation, two police officers removed T.F. from his class and put him in a school conference room where their questions “quickly evolved from basic information gathering into an interrogation.” During the hour-long session, the officers did not read T.F. his Miranda rights. The officers then transported T.F. to the police station where one officer delivered a rapid recitation of the Miranda warning, and then resumed their interrogation for another 45 minutes. T.F. adamantly denied touching the victim, was very emotional throughout the questioning, and repeatedly said he wanted to go back to class or go home. However, after continued questioning, he admitted that he touched the victim and knew it was wrong. At the jurisdictional hearing in juvenile court, T.F. moved to exclude the statements on the grounds that the he did not voluntarily waive his Miranda rights. The court admitted the post-Miranda statements and ultimately found a Penal Code section 288, subdivision (a) allegation true. T.F. appealed. Held: Reversed. A person may waive his Miranda rights provided that the waiver is voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently made. (Miranda v. Arizona (1966) 384 U.S. 436, 479.) Considering the totality of the circumstances, the Court of Appeal concluded that T.F. was not fully aware of the nature of the rights being abandoned and the consequences of the decision to abandon them. T.F. was only 15 years old during the interrogation, had never been in custody or interrogated by police, was visibly upset and confused, and had previously been diagnosed with a learning disability. The court determined that the officer’s “accusatory interrogation was dominating, unyielding, and intimidating” and his techniques were “precisely the things that could overwhelm an adolescent such as T.F. and induce him to incriminate himself.” Without the minor’s admissions, the court found insufficient evidence to establish the requisite intent for a person under 14 years old (Pen. Code, § 26) and reversed the judgment.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: