In The

Supreme Court of the United States




Decided June 1, 2004

Justice O’Connor, Concurring

Topic: Criminal Procedure*Court vote: 5–4
Note: No other Justices joined this opinion.
Citation: 541 U.S. 652 Docket: 02–1684Audio: Listen to this case's oral arguments at Oyez

* As categorized by the Washington University Law Supreme Court Database

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Justice O’Connor, concurring.

I join the opinion of the Court, but write separately to express an additional reason for reversal. There may be cases in which a suspect’s age will be relevant to the Miranda “custody” inquiry. In this case, however, Alvarado was almost 18 years old at the time of his interview. It is difficult to expect police to recognize that a suspect is a juvenile when he is so close to the age of majority. Even when police do know a suspect’s age, it may be difficult for them to ascertain what bearing it has on the likelihood that the suspect would feel free to leave. That is especially true here; 17½-year-olds vary widely in their reactions to police questioning, and many can be expected to behave as adults. Given these difficulties, I agree that the state court’s decision in this case cannot be called an unreasonable application of federal law simply because it failed explicitly to mention Alvarado’s age.

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