This case presents the question whether the age of a child subjected to police questioning is relevant to the custody analysis of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U. S. 436 (1966). It is beyond dispute that children will often feel bound to submit to police questioning when an adult in the same circumstances would feel free to leave. Seeing no reason for police officers or courts to blind themselves to that commonsense reality, we hold that a child’s age properly informs the Miranda custody analysis.
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Recognizing that the inherently coercive nature of custodial interrogation “blurs the line between voluntary and involuntary statements,” Dickerson, 530 U. S., at 435, this Court in Miranda adopted a set of prophylactic measures designed to safeguard the constitutional guarantee against self-incrimination. Prior to questioning, a suspect “must be warned that he has a right to remain silent, that any statement he does make may be used as evidence against him, and that he has a right to the presence of an attorney, either retained or appointed.” 384 U. S., at 444; see also Florida v. Powell, 559 U. S. ___, ___ (2010) (slip op., at (“The four warnings Miranda requires are invariable, but this Court has not dictated the words in which the essential information must be conveyed”). And, if a suspect makes a statement during custodial interrogation, the burden is on the Government to show, as a “prerequisit[e]” to the statement’s admissibility as evidence in the Government’s case in chief, that the defendant “voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently” waived his rights. [Footnote omitted.] Miranda, 384 U. S., at 444, 475–476; Dickerson, 530 U. S., at 443–444.
Because these measures protect the individual against the coercive nature of custodial interrogation, they are required “‘only where there has been such a restriction on a person’s freedom as to render him “in custody.”’” Stansbury v. California, 511 U. S. 318, 322 (1994) (per curiam) (quoting Oregon v. Mathiason, 429 U. S. 492, 495 (1977) (per curiam)). As we have repeatedly emphasized, whether a suspect is “in custody” is an objective inquiry.
“Two discrete inquiries are essential to the determination: first, what were the circumstances surrounding the interrogation; and second, given those circumstances, would a reasonable person have felt he or she was at liberty to terminate the interrogation and leave. Once the scene is set and the players’ lines and actions are reconstructed, the court must apply an objective test to resolve the ultimate inquiry: was there a formal arrest or restraint on freedom of movement of the degree associated with formal arrest.” Thompson v. Keohane, 516 U. S. 99, 112 (1995) (internal quotation marks, alteration, and footnote omitted).
See also Yarborough v. Alvarado, 541 U. S. 652, 662–663 (2004); Stansbury, 511 U. S., at 323; Berkemer v. McCarty, 468 U. S. 420, 442, and n. 35 (1984). Rather than demarcate a limited set of relevant circumstances, we have required police officers and courts to “examine all of the circumstances surrounding the interrogation,” Stansbury, 511 U. S., at 322, including any circumstance that “would have affected how a reasonable person” in the suspect’s position “would perceive his or her freedom to leave,” id., at 325. On the other hand, the “subjective views harbored by either the interrogating officers or the person being questioned” are irrelevant. Id., at 323. The test, in other words, involves no consideration of the “actual mindset” of the particular suspect subjected to police questioning. Alvarado, 541 U. S., at 667; see also California v. Beheler, 463 U. S. 1121, 1125, n. 3 (1983) (per curiam).
The benefit of the objective custody analysis is that it is “designed to give clear guidance to the police.” Alvarado, 541 U. S., at 668. But see Berkemer, 468 U. S., at 441 (recognizing the “occasiona[l] . . . difficulty” that police and courts nonetheless have in “deciding exactly when a suspect has been taken into custody”). Police must make in the-moment judgments as to when to administer Miranda warnings. By limiting analysis to the objective circumstances of the interrogation, and asking how a reasonable person in the suspect’s position would understand his freedom to terminate questioning and leave, the objective test avoids burdening police with the task of anticipating the idiosyncrasies of every individual suspect and divining how those particular traits affect each person’s subjective state of mind. See id., at 430–431 (officers are not required to “make guesses” as to circumstances “unknowable” to them at the time); Alvarado, 541 U. S., at 668 (officers are under no duty “to consider . . . contingent psychological factors when deciding when suspects should be advised of their Miranda rights”).
The State and its amici contend that a child’s age has no place in the custody analysis, no matter how young the child subjected to police questioning. We cannot agree. In some circumstances, a child’s age “would have affected how a reasonable person” in the suspect’s position “would perceive his or her freedom to leave.” Stansbury, 511 U. S., at 325. That is, a reasonable child subjected to police questioning will sometimes feel pressured to submit when a reasonable adult would feel free to go. We think it clear that courts can account for that reality without doing any damage to the objective nature of the custody analysis.
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As this discussion establishes, “[o]ur history is replete with laws and judicial recognition” that children cannot be viewed simply as miniature adults. Eddings, 455 U. S., at 115–116. We see no justification for taking a different course here. So long as the child’s age was known to the officer at the time of the interview, or would have been objectively apparent to any reasonable officer, including age as part of the custody analysis requires officers neither to consider circumstances “unknowable” to them, Berkemer, 468 U. S., at 430, nor to “anticipat[e] the frailties or idiosyncrasies” of the particular suspect whom they question, Alvarado, 541 U. S., at 662 (internal quotation marks omitted). The same “wide basis of community experience” that makes it possible, as an objective matter, “to determine what is to be expected” of children in other contexts, Restatement (Second) of Torts §283A, at 15; see supra, at 10, and n. 6, likewise makes it possible to know what to expect of children subjected to police questioning.
In other words, a child’s age differs from other personal characteristics that, even when known to police, have no objectively discernible relationship to a reasonable person’s understanding of his freedom of action. Alvarado, holds, for instance, that a suspect’s prior interrogation history with law enforcement has no role to play in the custody analysis because such experience could just as easily lead a reasonable person to feel free to walk away as to feel compelled to stay in place. 541 U. S., at 668. Because the effect in any given case would be “contingent[on the] psycholog[y]” of the individual suspect, the Court explained, such experience cannot be considered without compromising the objective nature of the custody analysis. Ibid. A child’s age, however, is different. Precisely because childhood yields objective conclusions like those we have drawn ourselves—among others, that children are “most susceptible to influence,” Eddings, 455 U. S., at 115, and “outside pressures,” Roper, 543 U. S., at 569— considering age in the custody analysis in no way involves a determination of how youth “subjectively affect[s] the mindset” of any particular child, Brief for Respondent 14. [Footnote omitted.]
In fact, in many cases involving juvenile suspects, the custody analysis would be nonsensical absent some consideration of the suspect’s age. This case is a prime example. Were the court precluded from taking J. D. B.’s youth into account, it would be forced to evaluate the circumstances present here through the eyes of a reasonable person of average years. In other words, how would a reasonable adult understand his situation, after being removed from a seventh-grade social studies class by a uniformed school resource officer; being encouraged by his assistant principal to “do the right thing”; and being warned by a police investigator of the prospect of juvenile detention and separation from his guardian and primary caretaker? To describe such an inquiry is to demonstrate its absurdity. Neither officers nor courts can reasonably evaluate the effect of objective circumstances that, by their nature, are specific to children without accounting for the age of the child subjected to those circumstances.
Indeed, although the dissent suggests that concerns “regarding the application of the Miranda custody rule to minors can be accommodated by considering the unique circumstances present when minors are questioned in school,” post, at 17 (opinion of ALITO, J.), the effect of the schoolhouse setting cannot be disentangled from the identity of the person questioned. A student—whose presence at school is compulsory and whose disobedience at school is cause for disciplinary action—is in a far different position than, say, a parent volunteer on school grounds to chaperone an event, or an adult from the community on school grounds to attend a basketball game. Without asking whether the person “questioned in school” is a “minor,” ibid., the coercive effect of the schoolhouse setting is unknowable.
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Reviewing the question de novo today, we hold that so long as the child’s age was known to the officer at the time of police questioning, or would have been objectively apparent to a reasonable officer, its inclusion in the custody analysis is consistent with the objective nature of that test. [Footnote omitted.] This is not to say that a child’s age will be a determinative, or even a significant, factor in every case. Cf. ibid. (O’Connor, J., concurring) (explaining that a state court decision omitting any mention of the defendant’s age was not unreasonable under AEDPA’s deferential standard of review where the defendant “was almost 18 years old at the time of his interview”); post, at 17 (suggesting that “teenagers nearing the age of majority” are likely to react to an interrogation as would a “typical 18-year-old in similar circumstances”). It is, however, a reality that courts cannot simply ignore.
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The question remains whether J. D. B. was in custody when police interrogated him. We remand for the state courts to address that question, this time taking account of all of the relevant circumstances of the interrogation, including J. D. B.’s age at the time. The judgment of the North Carolina Supreme Court is reversed, and the case is remanded for proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.
SOTOMAYOR, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which KENNEDY, GINSBURG, BREYER, and KAGAN, JJ., joined.
ALITO, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and SCALIA and THOMAS, JJ., joined:
Today’s decision shifts the Miranda custody determination from a one-size-fits-all reasonable-person test into an inquiry that must account for at least one individualized characteristic—age—that is thought to correlate with susceptibility to coercive pressures. Age, however, is in no way the only personal characteristic that may correlate with pliability, and in future cases the Court will be forced to choose between two unpalatable alternatives. It may choose to limit today’s decision by arbitrarily distinguishing a suspect’s age from other personal characteristics—such as intelligence, education, occupation, or prior experience with law enforcement—that may also correlate with susceptibility to coercive pressures. Or, if the Court is unwilling to draw these arbitrary lines, it will be forced to effect a fundamental transformation of the Miranda custody test—from a clear, easily applied prophylactic rule into a highly fact-intensive standard resembling the voluntariness test that the Miranda Court found to be unsatisfactory.
For at least three reasons, there is no need to go down this road. First, many minors subjected to police interrogation are near the age of majority, and for these suspects the one-size-fits-all Miranda custody rule may not be a bad fit. Second, many of the difficulties in applying the Miranda custody rule to minors arise because of the unique circumstances present when the police conduct interrogations at school. The Miranda custody rule has always taken into account the setting in which questioning occurs, and accounting for the school setting in such cases will address many of these problems. Third, in cases like the one now before us, where the suspect is especially young, courts applying the constitutional voluntariness standard can take special care to ensure that incriminating statements were not obtained through coercion.
Safeguarding the constitutional rights of minors does not require the extreme makeover of Miranda that today’s decision may portend.