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In re C.M.R.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District, Montgomery

January 12, 2018

IN RE: C.M.R.

         Appeal from Common Pleas Court-Juvenile Division Trial Court Case No. 2017-000735-01.

          MATHIAS H. HECK, JR., by MICHAEL J. SCARPELLI, Atty. Reg. No. 0093662, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, Attorney for Plaintiff-Appellee.

          BEN M. SWIFT, Atty. Reg. No. 0065745, Attorney for Defendant-Appellant.

          OPINION

          WELBAUM, J.

         {¶ 1} C.M.R. appeals from his adjudication of delinquency in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, for an act that, if committed by an adult, would constitute the offense of rape of a person under the age of 13. In support of his appeal, C.M.R. challenges the trial court's decision overruling his motion to suppress statements he made to an investigating detective. C.M.R. also claims that he was denied his Sixth Amendment right to counsel and that his adjudication was not supported by sufficient evidence and was otherwise against the manifest weight of the evidence. For the reasons outlined below, the judgment of the trial court will be affirmed.

         Facts and Course of Proceedings

         {¶ 2} On July 12, 2016, the Warren County Sheriffs Department began to investigate allegations that fourteen-year-old C.M.R. had nine-year-old C.C. perform fellatio on him while the boys were in the woods behind C.C.'s grandfather's home in Waynesville, Ohio. C.M.R. occasionally spent time with C.C.'s family because C.M.R.'s father was in a relationship with C.C.'s mother. In conducting the investigation, Detective Brandi Carter performed a forensic interview with C.C. on July 14, 2016. During the interview, C.C. indicated that there were a few incidents where C.M.R. exposed his genitals and one incident where C.M.R. placed his penis in C.C.'s mouth.

         {¶ 3} Following the forensic interview, Detective Carter contacted C.M.R.'s mother by telephone and asked to question C.M.R. regarding the allegations. Although C.M.R.'s mother initially indicated that she was going to get an attorney, she nevertheless called Detective Carter back and scheduled to meet with Carter at the sheriff's office on August 3, 2016. Thereafter, C.M.R. and his mother appeared at the sheriffs office as scheduled and spoke with Detective Carter.

         {¶ 4} During the meeting, Detective Carter first spoke with C.M.R.'s mother about the investigation, the allegations, and the fact that C.M.R. could be charged with rape. Detective Carter also advised C.M.R.'s mother that C.M.R. was not obligated to submit to questioning and that she and C.M.R. were free to leave and speak to an attorney. Following this discussion, C.M.R.'s mother permitted Detective Carter to question C.M.R. without an attorney present. During the questioning, C.M.R., who was then 15 years old, admitted to putting his penis in C.C.s' mouth on one occasion while he and C.C. were playing outside.

         {¶ 5} After Detective Carter completed her investigation, on August 15, 2016, a complaint was filed against C.M.R. in the Warren County Juvenile Court alleging one count of rape of a person less than 13 years of age in violation of R.C. 2907.02(A)(1)(b), a felony of the first degree. C.M.R. thereafter filed a motion to suppress the statements he made to Detective Carter during the August 3, 2016 interview. A hearing on the motion was held on December 5, 2016, during which the State presented the testimony of Detective Carter and the defense presented the testimony of C.M.R.'s mother. After taking the matter under advisement, the trial court overruled C.M.R.'s motion to suppress.

         {¶ 6} On January 18, 2017, the case proceeded to trial. At trial, the State presented the testimony of C.C, C.C.'s mother, and Detective Carter. After the State rested its case, C.M.R. moved for an acquittal pursuant to Crim.R. 29 on grounds that the State failed to prove the venue and date of the offense as alleged in the complaint. C.M.R. also alleged the State failed to prove that he engaged in sexual conduct with C.C. Following the parties' arguments, the trial court overruled the Crim.R. 29 motion and adjudicated C.M.R. a delinquent child for the charge of rape alleged in the complaint.

         {¶ 7} Given that C.M.R. was a resident of Montgomery County, Ohio, the Warren County Juvenile Court ordered the case be transferred to the Montgomery County Juvenile Court for final disposition.[1] On April 10, 2017, the Montgomery County Juvenile Court held a final disposition hearing and ordered that C.M.R. be committed to the legal custody of the Department of Youth Services for a minimum period of one year and a maximum period not to exceed C.M.R.'s attainment of the age of 21. The court, however, suspended C.M.R.'s commitment on the condition that he abide by the terms of probation, which was ordered to last through March 22, 2018. The trial court also ordered C.M.R. to be monitored by the court for an additional 18 months after his probation term ended.

         {¶ 8} C.M.R. now appeals from his adjudication of delinquency, raising three assignments of error for review.

         First Assignment of Error

         {¶ 9} C.M.R.'s First Assignment of Error is as follows:

[C.M.R.]'S FIFTH AMENDMENT RIGHT AGAINST SELF INCRIMINATION AND FIFTH AMENDMENT RIGHT TO COUNSEL WAS VIOLATED BECAUSE HIS STATEMENTS WERE INVOLUNTARILY INDUCED AND WITHOUT ADMINISTRATION OF THE NECESSARY MIRANDA RIGHTS AND WITHOUT THE BENEFIT OF AN ATTORNEY.

         {¶ 10} Under his First Assignment of Error, C.M.R. challenges the trial court's decision overruling his motion to suppress the statements he made to Detective Carter during the August, 3, 2016 interview. C.M.R. claims his statements should have been suppressed because he was: (1) not advised of his Miranda rights; (2) denied his right to counsel after his mother allegedly invoked the right on his behalf; and (3) involuntarily induced to speak with Detective Carter.

         Standard of Review

         {¶ 11} "In ruling on a motion to suppress, the trial court 'assumes the role of the trier of fact, and, as such, is in the best position to resolve questions of fact and evaluate the credibility of the witnesses.' " State v. Prater, 2012-Ohio-5105, 984 N.E.2d 36, ¶ 7 (2d Dist.), quoting State v. Retherford, 93 Ohio App.3d 586, 592, 639 N.E.2d 498 (2d Dist.1994). "As a result, when we review suppression decisions, 'we are bound to accept the trial court's findings of fact if they are supported by competent, credible evidence. Accepting those facts as true, we must independently determine as a matter of law, without deference to the trial court's conclusion, whether they meet the applicable legal standard.' " Id., quoting Retherford.

         Miranda Warnings

         {¶ 12} As noted above, C.M.R. initially claims that the statements he made to Detective Carter during the August 3, 2016 interview should have been suppressed because Carter failed to administer Miranda warnings in violation of his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Although the record indicates that Carter did not administer Miranda warnings, we disagree with C.M.R.'s conclusion that this necessitated the suppression of his statements.

         {¶ 13} " 'It is well-settled that many constitutional protections enjoyed by adults also apply to juveniles. One such constitutional protection is the privilege against self-incrimination.' " In re R.L, 2014-Ohio-5065, 23 N.E.3d 298, ¶ 17 (2d Dist.), quoting In re Haubeil, 4th Dist. Ross No. 01CA2631, 2002-Ohio-4095, ¶ 9. (Other citation omitted.) The privilege against self-incrimination is guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which provides that no person "shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself."

         {¶ 14} "In order to ensure that this right is protected, statements resulting from custodial interrogations are admissible only after a showing that the procedural safeguards described in Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 444, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966), have been followed." In re L.G., 2017-Ohio-2781, 82 N.E.3d 52, ¶ 11 (2d Dist.), citing State v. Earnest, 2d Dist. Montgomery No. 26646, 2015-Ohio-3913, ¶ 21. "Miranda requires police to give a suspect certain prescribed warnings before custodial interrogation commences and provides that if the warnings are not given, any statements elicited from the suspect through police interrogation in that circumstance must be suppressed." State v. Petitjean, 140 Ohio App.3d 517, 523, 748 N.E.2d 133 (2d Dist.2000). Specifically, "police officers must warn a suspect, prior to questioning, that he or she has a right to remain silent and a right to the presence of an attorney." (Citations omitted.) L G. at ¶ 11. " 'After the warnings are given, if the suspect indicates that he wishes to remain silent, the interrogation must cease. Similarly, if the suspect states that he wants an attorney, the interrogation must cease until an attorney is present.' " Id., quoting Maryland v. Shatzer, 559 U.S. 98, 104, 130 S.Ct. 1213, 175 L.Ed.2d 1045 (2010).

         {¶ 15} Police, however, are not required to administer Miranda warnings to every person they question, even if the person being questioned is a suspect. State v. Biros, 78 Ohio St.3d 426, 440, 678 N.E.2d 891 (1997), citing Oregon v. Mathiason, 429 U.S. 492, 495, 97 S.Ct. 711, 50 L.Ed.2d 714 (1977). Miranda warnings are required only for custodial interrogations. Id., citing Mathiason at 494. (Other citation omitted.) Miranda defined custodial interrogation as "questioning initiated by law enforcement officers after a person has been taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way." Miranda at 444.

         {¶ 16} "An individual is in custody when there has been a formal arrest or a restraint of freedom of movement such that a reasonable man would believe that he is under arrest." State v. Wenzler, 2d Dist. Greene No. 2003-CA-16, 2004-Ohio-1811, ¶ 15, citing Biros at 440. Accordingly, " 'the ultimate inquiry is simply whether there is a "formal arrest or restraint on freedom of movement" of the degree associated with a formal arrest.' " Biros at 440, quoting California v. Beheler, 463 U.S. 1121, 1125, 103 S.Ct. 3517, 77 L.Ed.2d 1275 (1983), quoting Mathiason at 495. (Other citation omitted.)

         {¶ 17} "The subjective views of the interviewing officer and the suspect are immaterial to the determination of whether a custodial interrogation was conducted." (Citations omitted.) L.G.,2017-Ohio-2781, 82 N.E.3d 52 at ΒΆ 13. "The inquiry whether a person is subject to custodial interrogation is an objective question, focusing on how a reasonable person in the ...


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