Miranda v. Arizona

What happened?

Ernesto Miranda was charged with the rape, kidnapping, and robbery of a 17 year old girl.  After approximately 2 hours of questioning by police, Miranda confessed to the crimes by a written statement.  At trial, his attorney objected to the admission of the statement because it was not truly voluntary.  Miranda lost and was sentenced to 20-30 years on each charge.  Miranda appealed to the Supreme Court on the grounds that his confession was coerced and not voluntary and thus should have been excluded from evidence.

What did the Court say?

Miranda wins; his conviction was overturned by a 5-4 decision.  The Court held that statements made (either to prove innocence or guilt) in response to interrogation by police are admissible only if the Defendant was previously informed of his/her right to an attorney, right against self-incrimination (right to remain silent), and the Defendant acknowledges that he/she understands these rights and agrees to waive them.  Detained suspects must be told these rights before police begin questioning them.

Why does it matter?

It changed the nature of police custody, interrogation, and procedure.  Following the case anyone who is arrested is recited their “Miranda rights” by a police officer.  Without the recitation of these rights, any statement made by the accused as to their guilt or innocence may not be allowed into evidence.

Leave a Comment