The court room was packed Thursday evening as the Big Bad Wolf stood trial for breaking the window of Grandma’s home in Grimm County, Teencourtia. The preliminary hearing was being held to determine if Mr. Wolf’s Miranda rights were violated during questioning by the arresting officer, Officer Ward.
The Miranda warning states, “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have a right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.” The Miranda warning is intended to protect the suspect’s Fifth Amendment right to refuse to answer self-incriminating questions.
Officer Ward stated in her testimony that upon arriving at the scene, she was able to follow a trail of wolf prints from Grandma’s home that lead her to Mr. Wolf. After briefly speaking with Mr. Wolf, Officer Ward invited him to the police station to continue their conversation, in which Mr. Wolf willingly obliged.
It was during his conversation at the police station with Officer Ward, that Mr. Wolf mentioned that he was at Grandma’s house earlier in the day and that he had in fact broken the window at Grandma’s house in order to follow his forest friends inside. After hearing this statement made by Mr. Wolf, Officer Ward blocked the door, taking away Mr. Wolf’s ability to leave on his own free will. It was not until later in the conversation that Officer Ward read Mr. Wolf his Miranda rights and placed him under arrest.
Defense Attorney, Ms. Natasha Lodholz, argued that this statement was inadmissible because the Miranda Warning was not given prior to Mr. Wolf being interrogated in custody; however, the Prosecuting Attorney, Mr. Jon Kotilnek, argued that Mr. Wolf was not in fact in custody because he willingly followed Officer Ward to the police station and voluntarily gave his statement.
Before the jury’s deliberation, Honorable Judge Lauren LaMontagne reminded them that the definition of custody means formal arrest or the deprivation of freedom to an extent associated with formal arrest and that interrogation means explicit questioning or actions that are reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response. If someone’s Fifth Amendment rights are violated, then you must suppress the statement given as a result of the violation.
Approximately thirty Teen Court volunteers were split into three juries for deliberation on the case in order to decide if in fact Mr. Wolf’s Miranda rights were violated and whether or not his statements to Officer Ward would be admissible in court.
After a lengthy deliberation, the trial ended in a hung jury with 1/2 of the jury members believing the statement should be allowed and 1/2 of the jury members believing the statement should be suppressed.
Which side of the jury would you be on? Was he held in custody? Was he being interrogated? Was he free to leave? Were Mr. Wolf’s Miranda rights violated? Only you can decide!