Age, Juvenile Status, and Parents’ Presence Relevant To Determination of Voluntary Consent

According to court records, Tyler B., a 16 year old, and two friends arrived late to school. One of the school’s officials reported smelling marijuana on the boys and seeing drug paraphernalia in Tyler’s car. Subsequently the boys were placed in separate rooms and the sheriff’s department was called.

After a deputy from the sheriff’s department read Tyler B. his Miranda warnings advising him against self-incrimination and his right to an attorney, Tyler, in the presence of several school officials, admitted to having driven the vehicle to school after smoking marijuana, also admitting that the drug paraphernalia was owned in part by him. After this admission by Tyler, the deputy placed him in handcuffs and went to retrieve a blood draw kit from his patrol vehicle. When he returned Tyler seemed much calmer and thus the deputy removed Tyler’s handcuffs and read Tyler Arizona’s laws which state that motorists must consent to blood or other tests, and that a refusal will result in automatic suspension of driving privileges. Tyler agreed both verbally and in writing.

However, once the case made its way to court Tyler argued that his consent was not voluntary and that as a minor he lacked the capacity to consent. After a court commissioner agreed and suppressed the evidence the Supreme Court of Arizona agreed to hear the case.

The Arizona Supreme Court on reviewing the case found that in “the consent by motorists referenced in [Arizona’s Statutes] does not always authorize warrantless testing of arrestees….[i]f the arrestee refuses, the statute specifies that a warrant is required to administer the test and the arrestee shall have his license suspended.”

Since the fourth amendment requires consent to be voluntary the Arizona Supreme Court then looked to the voluntariness of Tyler’s consent finding that “if the arrestee is a juvenile, the youth’s age and a parent’s presence are relevant… factors that courts should consider in assessing whether consent was voluntary under the totality of the circumstances.”

The Arizona Supreme Court refused to address the issue of whether Tyler had the capacity to consent, but held that under the totality of the circumstances, with his juvenile status and lack of parental presence, Tyler’s consent was involuntary.

Contact the Arizona juvenile defense lawyers at Oracle Law Group for assistance with your child’s juvenile case.