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Miranda Warnings to Students (November 2018 School Leader Update)

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In Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966) the Supreme Court adopted the Miranda warnings.  These warnings are an advisory of rights designed to protect against self-incrimination.  They include 1) the right to remain silent, 2) the right to know that any statement can be used against the person in court, and 3) the right to have assistance of counsel.  Failure to provide the Miranda warnings to an individual may result in a juvenile or criminal court order excluding any of those statements obtained in violation of the law.  The Miranda warnings apply when a suspect makes a statement during a custodial interrogation.  The burden falls on the government to show that the suspect has made a voluntary, knowing and intelligent waiver of these rights before providing a statement.  The requirement to inform a suspect of their Miranda rights only applies if two key things are present: 

  1. Custody - The suspect must be in law enforcement custody and not be free to leave. 
  2. Interrogation – The law enforcement officer must be interrogating the suspect

School officials are not agents of the police.  School officials are responsible to ensure safety and maintain order in schools and not to arrest criminals.  Therefore, a student who is being questioned by a school official who does not have an SRO or other law enforcement officer present or involved is NOT “in custody” for purposes of issuing Miranda warnings. 

Once an SRO or a law enforcement officer is involved and a student is in custody and under interrogation the duty to inform the student of Miranda rights arises.  A juvenile suspect who is under the age of 14 may not waive their Miranda rights in the absence of an interested adult, such as a parent. 

As always if an issue arises that requires law enforcement to get involved contact your school attorney for assistance. 

Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on October 29, 2020 at 12:17am.