Miranda v. Arizona

Miranda v. Arizona

        The Miranda warning is a police warning that is given to criminal suspects in police custody or in a custodial situation in the United States before they are asked questions relating to the commission of a crime. A custodial situation is where the suspect's freedom of movement is restrained although he is not under arrest. Police may request biographical information such as name, date of birth and address without reading suspects their Miranda warnings. A statement by the suspect will not constitute admissible evidence unless the suspect has been advised of and waived their "Miranda rights".Miranda is one of the best known cases in the history of the Supreme Court. It represents the Court's determination to treat even the lowliest of criminals with the same dignity and respect as the wealthiest celebrity. Miranda V. Arizona was a landmark 5-4 decision of the United States Supreme Court which was argued February 28–March 1, 1966 and decided June 13, 1966. The Court held that criminal suspects must be informed of their right to consult with an attorney and of their right against self-incrimination prior to questioning by police. The Miranda warning required by the Supreme Court in this case is an example of a prophylactic rule formulated by the judiciary in order to protect a constitutional right.

In 1963, Ernesto Miranda was arrested in Phoenix, Arizona for stealing eight dollars from a bank worker and charged with armed robbery. He already had a record for armed robbery, and a juvenile record including attempted rape, assault, and burglary. A victim of rape and kidnapping identified him as the perpetrator. The police then brought Miranda into the interrogation room, questioned him for two hours, and received a signed confession. The police had never advised Miranda of his right to an attorney or the fact that anything he said could be used against him in a court of law. Although Miranda's treatment was actually quite mild, compared to some of the other methods used at the time, the Supreme Court still found in favor of him, holding that the defendant's confession was inadmissible because he was not in any way informed of his right to council nor was his privilege against self-incrimination effectively protected in any other manner.  While in police custody he signed a written confession to the robbery, and to kidnapping and raping an 18-year-old woman 11 days before the robbery. After the conviction, his lawyers appealed, on the grounds that Miranda did not know he was protected from self-incrimination.

         The case, Miranda v. Arizona, made it all the way to the Supreme Court, where the conviction was overthrown. In a landmark ruling issued in 1966, the court established that the accused have the right to remain silent and that prosecutors may not use statements made by defendants while in police custody unless the police have advised them of their rights, commonly called the Miranda Rights. The case was later re-tried; Miranda was convicted on the basis of other evidence, and served 11 years. He was paroled in 1972, and died in 1976 at the age of 34, after being stabbed in a bar fight. A suspect was arrested but chose to exercise his right to remain silent, and was released.

        The following is a minimal Miranda warning, as outlined in the Miranda v Arizona case: 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 speak to an attorney, and to have an attorney present during any questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you at government expense.

The following is a much more verbose Miranda warning, designed to cover all bases that a detainee might encounter while in police custody. A detainee may be asked to sign a statement acknowledging the following: You have the right to remain silent and refuse to answer questions. Do you understand? Anything you do say may be used against you in a court of law. Do you understand?

You have the right to consult an attorney before speaking to the police and to have an attorney present during questioning now or in the future. Do you understand? If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you before any questioning if you wish. Do you understand? If you decide to answer questions now without an attorney present you will still have the right to stop answering at any time until you talk to an attorney. Do you understand? Knowing and understanding your rights as I have explained them to you, are you willing to answer my questions without an attorney present?