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RICHARD SCHIRNER (03/09/79)

decided: March 9, 1979.

IN THE INTEREST OF RICHARD SCHIRNER, A MINOR. APPEAL OF RICHARD SCHIRNER, A MINOR


No. 1440 October Term, 1978, An appeal from a final order of April 18, 1978 in the matter of Commonwealth v. Richard Schirner, a minor, at Nos. 178, 184, 187 of 1978, Juvenile, Bucks County, by which order the minor was adjudicated delinquent and disposition entered.

COUNSEL

H. John Witman, III, Erwinna, for appellant.

Kenneth G. Biehn, District Attorney, Doylestown, for Com., appellee.

Cercone, Hester and Hoffman, JJ. Hester, J. dissents.

Author: Hoffman

[ 264 Pa. Super. Page 186]

Appellant, a juvenile adjudicated delinquent below, contends that the court below erred in failing to suppress inculpatory extra-judicial statements obtained from him during his unlawful detention at the Bristol Township police station.*fn1 We agree, and accordingly reverse the adjudication of delinquency and remand for a new hearing.

The facts are as follows. On April 2, 1978, at 10:30 a. m., William Melbourne and appellant Richard Schirner were arrested while in flight from the scene of an attempted burglary. They were taken to the Bristol Township police station at 11:00 a. m., and were each placed in detention cells. The police notified their parents, who arrived at the station at noon.

After questioning Melbourne, Detective Edward Ward, the Juvenile Officer of the Bristol Township police, began to question Schirner at 1:30 p. m. in the presence of his mother, after warning him of his Miranda rights. Schirner admitted that he was at the scene of one prior unsolved burglary but maintained that he was simply an innocent bystander. Schirner was returned to his cell at 3:00 p. m. At that point, Ward resumed questioning of Melbourne. Melbourne then admitted to numerous burglaries on which the police had open files, and implicated Schirner along with two other juveniles named Michael White (see note 1 supra) and John Jones.

At 5:30 p. m., an officer telephoned Michael White at his home, and spoke to his father, who agreed to bring his son to the station for questioning. The Whites arrived at 5:30 p.

[ 264 Pa. Super. Page 187]

    m., and Detective Ward gave Michael his Miranda rights and questioned him in the presence of his father. Michael White orally admitted to his participation in numerous burglaries with Schirner, Melbourne, and Jones. Ward finished questioning Michael White at 7:00 p. m. and placed him in his own detention cell. No one questioned White further that day.

Officer John Schwab arrived at the station at 7:30 p. m. in response to a call from Detective Ward for help in interviewing the juveniles in custody. At 8:00 p. m., he brought Schirner out of his cell and questioned him until 10:00 p. m., during which time (with his mother no longer present) Schirner admitted to his participation in many burglaries with the others. At 10:00 p. m., all three juveniles were informed that they would stay overnight in their cells. The next morning, the juveniles' confessions were transcribed into written statements and signed. The juveniles were then given lunch and taken to the Bucks County Youth Center early in the afternoon.

The Juvenile Act, 11 P.S. § 50-101 et seq., provides a specific procedure to be followed when a juvenile is taken into custody. First, the officer must with all reasonable speed notify the parents of the child's apprehension and whereabouts, and then must do one of two things: (1) release the juvenile to his parents, or (2) if his detention is required to protect the person or property of others, detain the child at an appropriate place which is licensed or approved by the court or the Department of Public Welfare for the detention of delinquents. 11 P.S. §§ 50-309 to 311. For the purpose of determining which of these options to follow, the Act permits the "temporary detention or questioning" of the juvenile. ...


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