Criminals’ Rights and Supreme Court Summary

The rights of those who are suspected of crime are protected by the constitution. The developers of the Miranda rights claimed that the idea came as a result of the fear that the government could act in a manner that contravened the rights of an individual suspected of crime (Mount, 2010). A variety of the rights in the constitution as well as the bill of rights such as the right to remain silent, habeas corpus, the right to an attorney, are all developed in a way as to ensure that the rights of those accused of a crime are respected.

Since time immemorial, police had taken the advantage of the fact that not all people knew their rights out rightly (Mount, 2010). Though some people could have named some of the rights of an accused person, they could not name all of them. The “you have the right to remain silent” speech commonly referred to as the Miranda warning due to its legal requirements, was set up in a groundbreaking 1966 United States Supreme Court case; Miranda versus Arizona (Prentzas, 2005). The issue of the rights of accused people and the way the police dealt with them in the past was the main topic in Miranda versus Arizona.

Ernesto Miranda, who had been accused of raping a slightly retarded woman in 1963, was brought for questioning and confessed to the crime after a two hours questioning (Mount, 2010). Miranda had also been arrested in connection with the theft of $8 in cash from an Arizona bank worker. Mount (2010) states that Miranda was not informed of his rights by the police before the questioning. Though his lawyer tried to have his confession thrown out, the motion was rejected. He was convicted and sentenced to a period of twenty years in jail.

Miranda’s attorney appealed unsuccessfully to the Arizona Supreme Court (Mount, 2010). The case was later on presented to the U. S. Supreme Court in 1966, where it was ruled out that the statements recorded by the police could not offer tangible evidence for use in court due to the fact that Miranda had not been advised of his rights (Mount, 2010). The U. S. Supreme Court ruled out that any assertion made by an accused person could not be produced as evidence at the time of trial unless the defendant intentionally, knowingly, and intelligently put aside the legal right to remain silent.

This was a revolutionary as well as highly contentious judgment. Until 1966, the right to remain silent was highly perceived to apply only in trials. The 5th amendment of the United States constitution, however, defined the rights of criminal defendants. It stated that criminal defendants are not supposed to give testimonies against themselves in a court of law (Gaines and Miller, 2008). In Miranda, on the other hand, the right to remain silent was extended outside the court room to the police questioning room by the Supreme Court.

Gaines and Miller (2008) assert that the judgment of the United States Supreme Court had a significant impact on law enforcement. It resulted in creation of a new procedure for law enforcement officers to follow prior to interrogation of suspects as well as acquiring of confessions. Since that time, it was required that the police recite the Miranda warning to inform a suspect of his/her legal rights to remain silent as well as to have an attorney present, before conducting any questioning.

When Miranda judgment was first made, many people, especially the law enforcement officials, made an out cry that it contravened the constitution by putting the rights of criminal suspects above the rights of the whole society. Over the past forty years since the ruling, nevertheless, law enforcement officials have taken up the Miranda restrictions, and strategies to perform within their jurisdiction have turned out to be a standard section of police training (Gaines and Miller, 2008).

The right to an attorney in addition to the right to remain silent mainly referred to as the Miranda Rights as indicated by Longley (2010), are supposed to be read out to a suspect before questioning is done. These rights according to the U. S. Supreme Court are supposed to be read to a person in a clear way and in a language that the accused person understands (Longley, 2010). However, reading out of the Miranda warning to a suspect is not a prerequisite for arresting a person. Longley (2010) asserts that Miranda Rights do not offer any protection to a suspect from being arrested.

They only offer protection to a suspect from incriminating him or herself at the time of questioning. Police are required to arrest a person on the basis of the facts as well as evidence that contribute to the belief that a person has committed or was involved in the crime in question. Police are required to inform a suspect of his Miranda Rights before interrogation can start. Even though failure to read the Miranda Rights to a suspect may result in throwing out of statements from court, the arrest may still be legitimate.

Basic questions such as the name of the suspect, home address, social security number and any other questions aimed at obtaining information that may be necessary to establish the identity of a suspect, do not require the reading out of the Miranda Rights to a suspect (Longley (2010). Prentzas (2005) asserts that it is a prerequisite that the police advise the suspects of their rights: to an attorney, to remain silent as well as to an appointed attorney if the suspect does not have the capacity to meet the expense of a counsel, before a custodial questioning is initiated.

However, if the suspect is held in another place other than police custody, the police do not have to inform him/her of the Miranda warning. The police should be aware at all times of when to inform a suspect of the Miranda rights. Other tests such as drugs and alcohol tests may be conducted by the police regardless of whether the Miranda rights have been read out or not. However, interrogations concerning drugs should never be initiated before the Miranda rights are read to a suspect.

It is not a requirement for the police to read the Miranda rights to a suspect if they are not asking any questions that are testimonial in nature (Siegel, 2009). Also, when police are questioning the witnesses at the scene of crime and have not yet focused on the suspect, they are not required to read out the Miranda rights. In case a suspect provides private statements to an ally, the Miranda rights are not applicable to these assertions as long as the police or any other governmental agency did not organize them.

It is also not a prerequisite to read out the Miranda Rights during a traffic stop (Longley, 2010). Nevertheless, there are times when the suspects make voluntary assertion after arrest. In such a situation, the police do not have to inform the suspect of the Miranda Rights so long as they do not try to acquire those assertions through statements. Some of the statements voluntarily made by a suspect are admissible in court. If a statement that was obtained as a violation of the Miranda Rights results in discovery of new evidence, that statement may be used as evidence in a court of law.

If a suspect states that he/she wants an attorney to be present during interrogation, further questioning must stop out rightly until an attorney is present. The suspect should be given an opportunity to confer with the attorney as well as to have the attorney present during any subsequent questioning (Prentzas, 2005). When a suspect has been informed of the Miranda rights, he/she is said to have been “Mirandized” (Siegel, 2009). After that, a person may choose to remain silent. Silence cannot be used against a person in court.

If a suspect reads the Miranda Rights and chooses not to remain silent, anything he/she says can and will be used against him/her in a court of law. However, even though a suspect may decide to voluntarily waiver his or her 5th amendment rights and talk to a police officer, this does not imply that the protection of his/her Miranda Rights has been turned down. Siegel (2009), makes it clear that in order for a suspect to waiver his/her Miranda rights, he/she must either put it down in writing or state it orally that he/she clearly understands the rights and will answer questions regardless of the presence of an attorney or not.

Suspects who as a result of age, mental incapacity or language barrier cannot understand the Miranda Rights cannot be legally interrogated in absence of an attorney. However, if they understand their rights, they may be interrogated (Longley, 2010). In addition to the Miranda warning, the law enforcement officers are required to ask suspects two other questions: whether they understand their rights as they have been read to them, and whether the suspect knows his/her rights and is willing to talk to the law enforcement officers (Prentzas, 2005).

If a suspect makes it clear that he/she has no intentions of speaking to an officer thereby invoking his/her right to remain silent, the officer must with immediate effect stop further interrogation. Interrogation may also stop if a suspect refuses to carry on with questioning in the middle. Similarly, if a suspect requests an attorney, the law enforcement officer cannot conduct any further interrogation until a lawyer is present (Prentzas, 2005).

Once a criminal suspect has brought into play his/her Miranda Rights, law enforcement officers cannot re-instigate questioning in the absence of an attorney even though the accused may have conferred with a lawyer in the meantime. However, although a criminal suspect may have brought into play his/her Miranda Rights and requested for an attorney, the law enforcement officers may interrogate the offender of another separate crime as long as they read out the Miranda Rights for the second crime to the suspect as well (Gaines and Miller, 2008).

If the suspect decides to waive his/her Miranda Rights and confesses to the second crime regardless of the presence of a lawyer, the confession is held legal even though the suspect may have requested for a lawyer in the first crime. Nevertheless, if a person chooses to remain silent before the Miranda rights are read to him, that silence can be used against him/her in a court of law. Prosecutors may argue that pre-Miranda silence occurred as a result of the fact that the suspect was not astonished that the police discovered his/her involvement in a crime (Siegel, 2009). Reference:

Gaines, L. , and Miller, R. , (edn 5), (2008). Criminal Justice in Action, ISBN 0495505455: Cengage Learning Longley, R. , (2010). Miranda: Rights of Silence, retrieved on July 1, 2010 from http://usgovinfo. about. com/cs/mirandarights/a/miranda_2. htm Mount, S. , (2010). The Miranda Warning, retrieved on July 1, 2010 from http://www. uscon stitution. net/miranda. html Prentzas, G. , (2005). Miranda Rights: Protecting the Rights of the Accused, ISBN 1404204547: The Rosen Publishing Group Siegel, L. , (edn 12), (2009). Introduction to Criminal Justice, ISBN 0495599778 Cengage Learning