Famous Court Cases: Miranda v. Arizona

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This landmark 1966 court decision is likely one of the ten most influential court cases ever decided in the United States. What started as a routine criminal proceeding eventually made it all the way up to the Supreme Court. Every arrest which has been made since this 1966 decision has been impacted by Miranda v. Arizona. Now, every law enforcement official must be familiar with so called “Miranda Rights.”

Setting the Stage

Ernesto Miranda was arrested by the Phoenix Police Department on March 13, 1963. He was arrested based off of circumstantial evidence linking him to the rape of an eighteen-year-old girl. Phoenix police officers took Miranda back to the station and proceeded to interrogate him. Two hours later they had a signed confession on their hands. The basis of a confession is that it must be voluntary. Miranda’s typed statement actually included a phrase that read, “I do hereby swear that I make this statement voluntarily and of my own free will and with no threats, coercion, or promise of immunity and with full knowledge of my legal rights, understanding any statement I make may be used against me.”

The Sticker

During trial, this statement was brought forth as evidence. It was supposed to be an open and shut case. Miranda’s court appointed attorney, Alvin Moore, had another idea. It turns out, Miranda was never informed of his right to remain silent, or his right to avoid self-incrimination. Moore argued that this meant Miranda’s confession was not truly voluntary. Miranda was found guilty, but the verdict was appealed. Eventually the case made its way up to the Supreme Court.

Creating Miranda Rights

The Supreme Court overturned Miranda’s conviction with a vote of 5-4. This created the Miranda Rights. Everytime someone is brought into custody they must be read these rights. They go 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?”

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