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In re N.B.

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

March 8, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF: N.B., A MINOR, APPEAL OF: COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA

         Appeal from the Order Dated March 11, 2016, in the Court of Common Pleas of McKean County, Criminal Division, at No: CP-42-JV-0000063-2015

          BEFORE: LAZARUS, SOLANO, and STRASSBURGER, [*] JJ.

          OPINION

          STRASSBURGER, J.

         The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania appeals from the order entered on March 11, 2016, which granted the motion to suppress filed on behalf of N.B. (Appellee).[1] We reverse the order and remand this case for further proceedings.

         On April 28, 2016, Appellee's mother (Mother) received information from her daughter that Appellee and his twin brother, D.B., then 14 years old, had engaged in sexual conduct with a nine-year-old female who lived in an adjacent apartment. Mother confronted Appellee and his brother, both of whom confirmed the allegations. Mother reported the conduct to the boys' school district. In response, Lieutenant Steve Caskey of the Bradford Police Department requested that Appellee and his brother be brought to the police station for an interview. Based on the inculpatory statements elicited during that interview, the Commonwealth filed a written allegation of delinquency. On December 1, 2015, Appellee's attorney filed a motion to suppress.[2] A hearing was held on that motion on February 17, 2016. On March 11, 2016, the juvenile court granted Appellee's motion. This timely appeal followed. Both the Commonwealth and the juvenile court complied with the mandates of Pa.R.A.P. 1925.

         The Commonwealth presents the following issue for our review.

Did the [juvenile] court err in granting [Appellee's] motion to suppress where [Appellee] consulted with [Mother] prior to police questioning, and where [Mother] voluntarily brought [Appellee] to the police station, and where [Appellee] and [Mother] were both read their Miranda[3] rights, with each indicating that they understood those rights?

         Commonwealth's Brief at 5 (unnecessary capitalization and underlining omitted).

         When the Commonwealth appeals from a suppression order, the relevant scope and standard of review is as follows.

[W]e are required to determine whether the record supports the factual findings of the suppression court, and we are bound by those facts and may reverse only if the legal conclusions drawn therefrom are in error. Since [the j]uvenile prevailed below, we consider only the evidence of [the j]uvenile and so much of the Commonwealth's evidence that is un-contradicted when read in the context of the entire record. Concomitantly, where the questions presented concern legal questions, we are not bound by the suppression court's determinations and our standard of review is de novo.

In re T.P., 78 A.3d 1166, 1169 (Pa. Super. 2013).

         Instantly, the Commonwealth argues that the juvenile court erred in granting Appellee's motion to suppress because the totality of the circumstances presented here demonstrates that Appellee's confession was made voluntarily. Commonwealth's Brief at 12.

         In [Commonwealth v. Williams, 475 A.2d 1283, 1287 (Pa. 1984)], which addressed a juvenile's waiver of his Miranda rights in the context of providing a confession during police interrogation, our Supreme Court held:

The requirements of due process are satisfied, and the protection against the use of involuntary confessions which law and reason demand is met by application of the totality of circumstances analysis to all questions involving the waiver of rights and the voluntariness of confessions made by juveniles. All of the attending facts and circumstances must be considered and weighed in determining whether a juvenile's confession was knowingly and freely given. Among those ...

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