What is Miranda v. Arizona Actually About?

April 11, 2023

Miranda v. Arizona is a landmark Supreme Court case in the United States that established the Miranda warning, which is read to criminal suspects in police custody before they are interrogated. The case was decided on June 13, 1966, and has had a significant impact on criminal law and criminal procedure in the United States.

The case began in 1963 when Ernesto Miranda was arrested by the Phoenix Police Department for the kidnapping and rape of an 18-year-old girl. Miranda was identified by the victim in a lineup, and he later confessed to the crime. At trial, the prosecution introduced Miranda’s written confession as evidence, and he was convicted and sentenced to 20 to 30 years in prison.

Miranda appealed his conviction, arguing that his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and his Sixth Amendment right to counsel had been violated. The Supreme Court of Arizona upheld the conviction, and the case was appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court’s decision in Miranda v. Arizona was a 5-4 ruling in favor of Miranda. The Court held that any statement made by a suspect while in custody and subject to police interrogation is inadmissible as evidence in court unless the suspect was first advised of their rights to remain silent and to have an attorney present. These rights, which are now commonly referred to as the Miranda warning, are intended to protect suspects from self-incrimination during police questioning.

The Court’s ruling in Miranda v. Arizona was based on the idea that custodial interrogation is inherently coercive, and that suspects in custody may not fully understand their rights or may feel compelled to make a statement to the police. The Court also noted that the use of a suspect’s statement in court can be highly prejudicial and can lead to a conviction even if the statement is later found to be false or coerced.

The Miranda warning includes the following four rights:

  1. The right to remain silent: suspects have the right to refuse to answer questions or make a statement.
  2. The right to an attorney: suspects have the right to have an attorney present during questioning.
  3. The right to have an attorney appointed if they cannot afford one.
  4. The right to be informed that anything they say can and will be used against them in court.

It is important to note that the Miranda warning only applies in situations where a suspect is in custody and subject to police interrogation. If a suspect is not in custody or is not being interrogated, then the police are not required to give a Miranda warning. Additionally, if a suspect voluntarily waives their rights and chooses to make a statement, then that statement can be used as evidence in court.

The Miranda v. Arizona decision has had a significant impact on criminal law and criminal procedure in the United States. Police are now required to give the Miranda warning to suspects in custody and subject to interrogation, and any statement made by a suspect without being advised of their rights is inadmissible as evidence in court. The decision has also led to increased protections for suspects during police questioning and has helped to ensure that suspects are not coerced into making self-incriminating statements.

However, some have criticized the decision and the Miranda warning, arguing that it can make it more difficult for the police to obtain confessions and that it can lead to suspects being released if they have not been advised of their rights. Others have argued that the warning is not always read correctly or that suspects do not always understand their rights.

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