Miranda v. Arizona

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Border Patrol agent reads Miranda rights to a suspect

Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), was a landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court. The Court ruled that a suspect in police custody must be informed of the right to consult with an attorney before and during questioning. They must be informed of the right against self-incrimination. They must also make certain the suspect understands these rights.

The Miranda warning (often abbreviated to "Miranda," or "Mirandizing" a suspect) is the name of the formal warning that is required to be given by police in the United States to criminal suspects. It must be given before they are interrogated, in accordance with the Miranda ruling. Its purpose is to ensure the accused are aware of these rights under the U.S. Constitution. Also so they know they know they can invoke them at any time during the interview.

Namesake[change | change source]

On 13 March 1963, Ernesto Miranda was arrested by police officers in Phoenix, Arizona.[1] Miranda asked why he was being arrested but was given no answer. At the time of his arrest he was not charged with any crime.[1] Ten days earlier an 18-year old girl claimed she had been sexually assaulted. When she talked to the police, her story changed several times. A few days later she was leaving work and saw a suspicious car she thought might be the same as the one used in her assault.[1] A partial license plate led police to arrest and question Miranda. In a lineup, the girl could not identify her attacker but thought he looked similar to Miranda.[2] During the interview with Miranda, police told the suspect he failed the lineup. After hours of interrogation Miranda finally signed a confession.[2] Police also got Miranda to confess to two other cases of abduction and robbery which "cleared" two more cases.[3]

Miranda v Arizona[change | change source]

The case of Ernesto Miranda and three other similar cases were heard before the Supreme Court. All four defendants did not have attorneys present when they were questioned.[4] The decision was announced on 13 June 1966 by Chief Justice Earl Warren. Because of the important changes it made, he read the entire sixty pages.[4] Four justices disagreed with the ruling. Their argument was that all the defendants confessed. Their opinion was that allowing lawyers in interrogations would prevent most suspects from confessing.[5]

As a result Ernesto Miranda's first conviction was overturned but he faced a second trial on sexual assault and kidnapping charges in 1967.[6] His confession could not be used against him but the prosecutor got Miranda's girlfriend to testify he told her he did it.[a][9] She said it happened three days after his police confession. He was found guilty and got the same sentence again.[9]

Typical Miranda warning[change | change source]

Insert the text of the quote here, without quotation marks.

There are some 17,000 police departments in the United States. They use any of hundreds of different versions of the Miranda warning. These range from a few words to over 400.[10] One reason is that many fall into vulnerable groups who do not always understand written or oral Miranda warnings.[11] These include those who are deaf, do not speak or read English well, juveniles, mentally ill, and or the mentally challenged. The courts have been less than protective of the rights of these groups who may not have understood their Miranda rights.[12]

Other countries[change | change source]

Like the Miranda warnings, other countries have written rights they give to suspects before police begin their questioning. They have procedures to insure a confession is valid in their court systems. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms for example, provides that if someone is arrested they have certain rights. These are to be promptly told why they were arrested, told they have a right to retain legal council and the right of proof of habeas corpus (or be released from custody).[13]

Notes[change | change source]

  1. This is an example of hearsay evidence. In most courts hearsay evidence is inadmissible (cannot be used in a trial) unless an exception to the Hearsay Rule applies.[7] Only about half of the 50 US states follow the Federal Rules of Evidence regarding hearsay evidence. The rest have their own rules.[8]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Michael Burgan, Miranda V. Arizona: The Rights of the Accused (Minneapolis, MN: Compass Point Books,2007), p. 10
  2. 2.0 2.1 Larry A. VanMeter, Miranda V. Arizona: The Rights of the Accused (New York: Chelsea House, 2007), pp. 18–19
  3. Paul Ruschmann, Miranda Rights (New York: Infobase Publishing, 2007), p. 72
  4. 4.0 4.1 G. S. Prentzas, Miranda Rights: Protecting the Rights of the Accused (New York, NY : Rosen Publishing Group, 2006), p. 12
  5. G. S. Prentzas, Miranda Rights: Protecting the Rights of the Accused (New York, NY : Rosen Publishing Group, 2006), p. 13
  6. Michael Burgan, Miranda V. Arizona: The Rights of the Accused (Minneapolis, MN: Compass Point Books,2007), p. 68
  7. Judy Hails, Criminal Evidence (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2012), p. 231
  8. Judy Hails, Criminal Evidence (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2012), p. 238
  9. 9.0 9.1 G. S. Prentzas, Miranda Rights: Protecting the Rights of the Accused (New York, NY : Rosen Publishing Group, 2006), p. 15
  10. Lawrence S. Wrightsman; Mary L. Pitman, The Miranda Ruling: Its Past, Present, and Future (Oxford; New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2010), p. 20
  11. Lawrence S. Wrightsman; Mary L. Pitman, The Miranda Ruling: Its Past, Present, and Future (Oxford; New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2010), p. 78
  12. Lawrence S. Wrightsman; Mary L. Pitman, The Miranda Ruling: Its Past, Present, and Future (Oxford; New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2010), p. 156
  13. Inge Sebyan Black, The Art of Investigative Interviewing (Burlington: Elsevier Science, 2014), p. 43