Law Enforcement: Miranda Rights

In the field of Law enforcement the main job description could briefly be stated as bust the bad guys, and get them behind bars. That would be far too simply put though, of course. There are very strict guidelines and rules to gathering evidence, and making a proper arrest of an alleged perpetrator. Many of these procedures and protocols are in place to protect the rights of the perpetrator, who must be presumed innocent till proven guilty, but these rules are there to protect and preserve evidence as well. It is crucial all Law Enforcement officials are well versed regarding these rights. Failure to comply in any of the strict, procedural requirements may result in a case being thrown out of court, denied a hearing. Worse yet, it may, ultimately grant a get out of jail free card for the criminal, even when obviously guilty as charged. One of the most vital steps in an arrest, in which the suspect will be questioned, involves one of these rights. It is known as The Miranda Warning. In the past while in police custody there were accusations of police brutality being used to obtain confessions. Cases were challenged and convictions appealed, based on accusations from the defense that a confession was obtained from a suspect through the use of intimidation, force, and/or under duress, or with the claim the defendant did not understand the questioning.  In the mid 1960’s two trials, based on such a scenario, set the stage for the institution of the Miranda Rights Warning. The first was Escobedo v. Illinois in 1964. The second landmark case in 1966 involved a defendant named Ernesto Miranda who was accused of robbery, kidnapping, and rape, to which he confessed during police interrogation, and later recanted at trial. Miranda, due to the accusations was granted a second trial. Prior to the Miranda Warning these situations were able to occur because a suspect later in front of the judge claims that a) He did not understand; due to mental impairment or language barriers etc… or b) He was forced or coerced into the confession. Today, as explained by Aaron Larson, Miranda Rights, upon being placed under arrest “The police must advise suspects of their "Miranda Rights" - their right to remain silent, their right to an attorney, and the right to an appointed attorney if they are unable to afford counsel - prior to conducting a custodial interrogation” (Larson.2000.¶.1). Larson also points out that “If a suspect is not in police custody (i.e., "under arrest"), the police do not have to warn him of his rights” (Ibid). Law enforcement is generally able to use information that is offered voluntarily prior to arrest as evidence. The Miranda Warning varies slightly from state to state, but it is generally as follows; “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you In a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?” References: Larson, A. (2000). Miranda Rights, Law Offices of Aaron Larson. Retrieved 3 June from; http://www.expertlaw.com/library/criminal/miranda_rights.html .