Miranda Rights Essay Research Paper The constitution

Miranda Rights Essay, Research Paper

The constitution was designed to have basic laws to govern by and at the same time providing citizens with the basic rights of life, liberty and happiness ( which later became property). These terms are pretty vague thus they often need to be given specific meaning or interpretation in a courtroom. The constitution also includes a set of amendments that are called the bill of rights, because they mainly deal with rights of he ?people? and citizens of the United States.

The fifth and sixth amendments protect the mentioned rights, specially of those being held in custody of the authorities. The fifth amendment states that ?No person shall be?compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.? The sixth states that ?In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining? (Bill of Rights, 1791)

In 1963, Ernesto Miranda was arrested in Phoenix, Arizona for armed robbery, and for kidnapping and raping a mentally challenged 18-year-old woman. He already had a record for armed robbery, and juvenile record including attempted rape, assault, and burglary. While in police custody he signed a written confession to the crime. After the conviction, his lawyers appealed, on the grounds that Miranda did not know he was protected from self-incrimination. This was the beginning of the landmark case that lead to the ?Miranda Ruling?. The case, Miranda vs Arizona, made to the Supreme Court, where his conviction was overturned. In the 1966 ruling, the court established that the accused had 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. The case was later re-tried. This time the confession wasn?t taken into consideration. Miranda was still convicted on the basis of other evidence, and served 11 years.

Since this landmark case when suspects are arrested their ?Miranda Rights? (as popularly known ) should be read. The statement is a standard list of rights that has been over used in police shows and movies. The ruling took a lot of consideration from of the justice in charged of this case. Chief Justice Earl Warren?s opinion is one of the best-known. Warren’s handwritten notes contain his initial considerations about the decision that required police to warn an arrested suspects that the government could use any information provided as evidence and that the suspect had a right to remain silent and the right to a lawyer. Warren sent his notes to Justice William E. Brennan, Jr., for comment. Brennan’s reply suggested more flexibility and a larger role for Congress and the States. Warren incorporated some of Brennan?s suggestions before he circulated the opinion to the other justices.

The following is an example of the Miranda Rule used by the Philadelphia police department. Every police department has it?s own variation of this rule but the rights are always the same ones.




We are questioning you concerning the crime (state specific crime).

We have a duty to explain to you and warn you that you have the following legal rights.

A. You have a right to remain silent and do not have to say anything at all.

B. Anything you say can and will be used against in Court.

C. You have the right to talk to a lawyer of you choice before we ask you any questions, and also to have a lawyer here with you while we ask questions.

D. If you cannot afford to hire a lawyer, and you want one, we will see that you have one provided to you free of charge before we ask you any questions.

E. If you are willing to give us a statement, you have a right to stop any time you wish.

(Wilson and Dilulio, 2001)

One interesting aspect about this ruling is that although police have adapted their procedures to include these warnings, the frequency of confessions has not changed. However, the decision remains controversial because in some cases, if the police fails to recite the rights it will lead to the exclusion of confessions from evidence. Nevertheless the privilege of self-incrimination under Miranda only applies when the suspect is under police custodial interrogation. Custody means ?that the suspect has been deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way that creates an intimidating situation, even if the suspect has not been formally arrested?. Therefore , when IRS agents interrogates a suspect at his home or office, the suspect is not in custody, unless something about the situation is ?particularly intimidating?; like being questioned by four police officers in one’s bedroom at 4:00 a.m. has elements of pressure.

This a very controversial ruling since some say that the methods in which police officers collect the evidence should not matter if the evidence proves culpability. However the bill of rights protect all individuals even those that presumably have committed crimes. If the rights of an arrested suspects are violated in such way and he/she is not even aware of it, then the laws are going against all the freedom this country stands for. It would also give the go-ahead to other violations such as torture. The Miranda Ruling did not send Ernesto Miranda free he was still re-tried and convicted of the crime he had indeed committed.

Feinman, Jay F., 2001 LAW 101: Everything you need to know about

American Legal System.


Wilson And Dililio, 2001, The American Government


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