An assistant principal received a report of a “suspicious” backpack “being passed around in the classroom.” The backpack was taken by a teacher and given to the assistant principal. She searched the backpack and found two baggies of marijuana inside. The student who owned the backpack admitted during an interview with the assistant principal that the marijuana belonged to him. The student was taken into custody by the school resource officer and ultimately was found to have engaged in delinquent conduct by committing the misdemeanor offense of possession of marijuana in a drug-free zone. He was given six months of probation for that offense.

The student appealed this judgment to the court of appeals, arguing that his confession admitting to marijuana possession should not have been considered because he had not been advised of his rights to remain silent, to have an attorney present, or to terminate the interview. A juvenile must be advised of his rights while being interrogated by police, and statements made to law enforcement are not admissible if this does not occur. However, the court of appeals disagreed in this case, noting that questioning of a student by a principal is different than a police interrogation.

In this case, the assistant principal testified that her purpose in interviewing the student was to find out if he was the student who had put the marijuana in the backpack so that she could determine the appropriate school consequence. Additionally, no police officer was present during the interview and there was nothing to indicate that the student believed he was in police custody. Because of these facts, the student was not considered to be in police custody when he admitted that the marijuana was his. He was therefore not entitled to be advised of his rights and his statements could be used against him.