“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say will and can be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney, and if you cannot afford one, they will be provided for you.” These are the words we normally hear almost all the time during an arrest. They are referred to the Miranda rights. But who came up with these rights? Were these rights there before in the past? Of what significance are they? This paper is a full explanation of what the Miranda rights are, causes related to Miranda rights and most importantly, the cause of Miranda rights and its significance today.
Miranda v. Arizona
The Supreme Court in most countries is responsible for exclusively hearing appeals of various legal issues. They have been given authority by the constitution to do the following. They check the actions of the president as well as that of the Congress; they are the final judge of all cases that involve the Congress and have the right to correct the head of state, the government or the Congress whenever their actions do not comply with the constitution. Some of the most famous Supreme Court cases include the US v Schooner Peggy, Resler v Shehee, Turner v Fendall and Marbury v Madison. However, in this paper, I will be discussing the famous Miranda v Arizona case.
Arizona is actually a small state to the south-west region the United States. Miranda, on the other hand, is a short form of the “Miranda warning.” Today the name is used to refer to the formal warning that is given to criminal suspects in a custodian situation as required by law. The purpose of the warning is to remind criminal suspects of their legal rights so that they are aware/ reminded of them before they do any action or speak before the police.
The thesis of the statement is as follows. On 13th March 1963, the Phoenix police department arrested a man by the name Ernesto Miranda. This arrest was based on certain circumstantial evidence that linked Miranda to the kidnap and rape of an 18-year-old defenseless woman about 10 years earlier. Miranda, under police custody, was interrogated for over 2 hours and afterward signed a confession of rape charges that included the following statement: I hereby swear that this statement I am making is voluntary and out of my own free will. I made this statement without being threatened, submitted to coercion or promises of immunity and with full knowledge of my legal rights. I also understand that any statement I make will be used against me in a court of law.
In true sense, Mr. Miranda was not informed of his legal rights of counsel; he was also not informed of his rights to remain silent. In addition, Miranda was not informed that all his actions and words would be used against him in a court of law. At the trials, the prosecutors offered Ernesto’s signed documents as evidence of confession regardless of being told his rights before he was presented with those documents to sign what he had mentioned orally. Alvin Moore was the courts appointed a lawyer for Ernesto (Morgan, 2010). The lawyer objected the facts arguing that his confession was not entirely voluntarily based on the above information. Thus, the evidence should be excluded. However, the judge overruled Moore’s objection basing his judgment on present evidence and confession. The judge further sentenced Miranda to a 20-30 year imprisonment. Moore took a step further and filed his appeal to the Supreme Court arguing that the confession Miranda made was not entirely voluntary. The Supreme Court, however, dismissed his appeal claiming that Miranda personally did not request for an attorney.
The Miranda rights came to be after the historic event of the case of Miranda v Arizona. Therefore, in 1966 the Supreme Court decided to have a 5th amendment in the constitution known as the Miranda rights. These rights were to inform the criminal suspects about what actions they are allowed to take under police custody. The Fifth Amendment now demands the police to tell a suspect the following four things. One: “you have the right to remain silent” (Findlaw, 2017). This right means that one can either choose to speak up and defend himself or point fingers at others. Either way, one can also choose to keep quiet about all allegations. Choosing to speak or not to speak while being arrested is a constitutional right for the suspect. Two: “Anything you choose to say will and can be used against you in a court of law” (Findlaw, 2017). This right actually means what whatever allegation, threat; evidence and additional information among other statements that may be made by the criminal suspect will be used as evidence in a court of law, against his defense. This right is explaining the first statement on the right of a person to keep quiet or remain silent. Therefore, a person who is being arrested can choose to remain silent because any statement that comes out of his mouth will be used against him. Three: “You have full rights to an attorney” (Findlaw, 2017). This right means that the suspect, even under police custody should be allowed to contact and converse with their attorney. They have legal rights to communicate with them, in case they need any help from them. Four: “If one cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided/ appointed for you.” (Findlaw, 2017) This right was put in place to be of great assistance to poor or abandoned criminal suspects who cannot afford to contact or look for a lawyer to defend themselves. The court must provide a lawyer for such people because they have legal rights to obtain a lawyer who will defend them. All these four rights must be communicated to the suspect at the point of arrest.
Failure to explain the Miranda rights to the suspect before questioning begins will result in the disregarding all the statements the suspect may make after questioning. All evidence that may have been gathered from the suspect without full knowledge of his rights or due lack of understanding of the Miranda rights will result in the statement being thrown away. This is because the statements made will be assumed to have been made involuntary.
This case is termed as “important” in the history of the United States. This made a landmark because of its major impact on interpreting the laws of the US. Landmark cases are cases that made huge turning points in the history of the US laws. They also dealt with various unique situations and made various precedents that are needed to be followed afterward. Miranda v Arizona cases are important in several ways. To begin with, it gave rise to Miranda rights and amendments to the constitution that gave rise to the 5th amendment (Police Department, 2017). This case also informed the Supreme Court that without proper procedures of arrest, statements made by the suspect are involuntary and unconstitutional.
In a 5-4 Supreme Court decision, the judge ruled that the evidence laid down by the police was unconstitutional because they had failed to inform Miranda or his rights. The case also made it significant that the police are aware of the 5th and 6th amendment of the constitution. The 5th amendment requires them to provide a convict with all the necessary rights and warnings. This would allow them to refuse to make any self-incriminatory statements. The 6th amendment is somehow similar; it allows any convict to have a right to talk to or obtain a lawyer. Therefore, without knowing these rights, the detainees increasingly become vulnerable. These rights are increasingly becoming a part of the American law as the year’s progress because of the Miranda v Arizona case.
Furthermore, the case has proved significant because it made the Courts realize a trend in forced confessions that may result in wrongful convictions. This trend had resulted in the loss of the American spirit as well as the breaking of the law. Basic liberties of the defendant had been deprived. The case also led to the importance of having a lawyer at the time of interrogation. This has greatly become important because in the presence of the lawyer the interrogation becomes less forceful. The convict can be free to speak without being fearful and without pressure.
In summary, the Miranda v Arizona case became important to the point that it reached the Supreme Court because it taught the nation that there is a need to protect the rights of the convict. This results in reducing the widespread misuse of authority by police officers. The court created statements which were rules that explained what the police had to mention to the suspects under custody. The greatest importance was that the case ensured balancing between police powers and the rights of their convicts.
The 1966 case has been established because of the following reasons. Criminals were never advised on their legal rights according to the 5th and 6th amendment. The convicts were normally forcefully interrogated and forced to make confessions against their own will and without the presence of a lawyer. The police officers were not trained on how to explain the Miranda rights to their suspects under detention. Lastly, men of the law in the US did not practice the constitutional rights of the criminal suspects during the arrest. This had led to a violation of the constitution.
The first case is about Mrs. Maryann Romaszko v The United States. The case study reveals that mars Maryann became a target of an investigation on June 16th, 1999 and underwent thorough investigations. The interrogation meeting was planned for her when she was at work and was immediately ordered by her boss to attend that interview in one of the rooms within the organization. There, she was confronted by two policemen who accused her of theft (Abhijeet, 2016). She was never allowed to leave the meeting. This is because in five different occasions had she asked to leave the meeting but was not given a chance to.
In addition, Maryann was never informed of her Miranda rights, and when she was asked whether she had taken any money, she denied. She was further charged with making a false not statement which was a felony. The court however evaluated that the suspect, in this case, was not informed of her rights and this was not at liberty to terminate the interrogation and depart. Maryann was not free to leave because of her economic fear of losing her job. Moreover, the investigators had not permitted the convict to leave whenever she wanted to. Adding to the fact that Maryann was not informed of her Miranda rights before interrogation, she was also not in police custody (Abhijeet, 2016). Both situations made the allegations made by the investigators against her null and void. The second circuit affirmed the ruling that was made by the district court.
The second case is about Dennis Thompson V the United States. Dennis is believed to have robbed a bank on October 20th, 1999. That is the La Salle National bank located in Peru, Illinois. He took over $64,500 in cash. About 5 years later, that is; on September 22nd, 2004, FBI agents Eley and Lee made an impromptu visit to Dennis at his home. On arrival, they identified themselves as FBI agents through their badges and Identification cards (Abhijeet, 2016). Dennis was asked whether he would like to speak and he agreed. So he invited them to his living room.
His living room was quite small, and the investigators had to sit on some chairs a few meters from Dennis. The investigators began questioning him right away about the stolen money. Dennis immediately denied having being involved in any sort of bank robbery. But when the interrogators showed him a sketch of the bank robber and identified it by his name made him believe that the agents already knew him. None of the agents physically touched Dennis or acted intimidating towards him. Thompson decided to get a glass of water and one of the investigators, Eley followed him as he went for a glass of water and a bible. He kept the view of Dennis the whole time. After nearly 3 hours, the agents informed the suspect that convicts who cooperate with the law receive a lighter punishment. They also informed Thompson that if he was willing to work with them, he would possibly be released from prison through a bond. Therefore, Thompson confessed to the robbery as agent Eley made a written document on the same. They left Dennis’ home without arresting him.
Two agents were left to watch Thompson about 100 yards away. The following morning Thompson was dressed in an athletic dressing and left his home to go for a jog. He was immediately arrested and explained of his Miranda’s rights (Abhijeet, 2016). He was placed in an interrogation room and made a second confession regarding the robbery.
Court ruling claims that Dennis was not in custody. This is because even a reasonable person would not believe that they were actually under custody. The circumstances that lead to the belief of this is because the suspect was not informed that he could not move, the happenings happened in a public place, he was not moved to another area, and the officer’s tone did not associate to command. In this case, the fact the Dennis woke up and dressed for jogging exercise claims that truly, he never took the statements he made seriously. And he did not realize he was under custody. In addition, the fact that the police officers sat so close to Dennis while he was making his statement states that Denis was not free from fear and pressure while making his statements. He was also in the presence of a lawyer. The court finally overruled the allegations brought forward by the two agents of investigation from the FBI due to the above reasons, and due to the most important reason of all, the suspect was not informed of his Miranda rights during the first interrogation (Abhijeet, 2016). This does away with the confessions he may have made even after the first confession.
To begin with, the Miranda rights are the first thing on the police’s mouth during the arrest to clear any doubts regarding the arrest. Secondly, the rights of the convict have been protected, and they are not harassed any more by the police (Findlaw, 2017). Lastly, the Miranda rights are continuously being taught to police officers, to individuals and students in school to enrich the embracing of the constitution and its privileges.
In conclusion, Miranda was arrested on an allegation basing on the fact that he had committed robbery and raping a defenseless 18-year-old girl about 10 years earlier. This case was argued against in the first conviction and overruled at the Supreme Court. It is due to this man that there are Miranda rights today. The police are supposed to inform their detainees that: they have a right to be silent, anything they say will be used against them in a court of law, they have a right to an attorney/lawyer, and if they cannot afford one they will be provided for.
- Abhijeet, P. (2016, November 4). Cheshnotes. Retrieved November 11, 2018, from Miranda v Arizona 196- Landmark Supreme Court Cases: https://ww.cheshnotes.com/2016/11/miranda-v-arizona-1996-landmark-supreme-court-cases/
- Findlaw. (2017). Mranda rights and the fifth amendment. Retrieved November 11, 2018, from FindLaw: https://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-rights/miranda-rights-and-the-fifth-amendment.html
- Morgan. (2010). miranda v arizona.
- Police Department. (2017). What are your Miranda Rights? Retrieved November 11, 2018, from Miranda warning: https://www.mirandawarnig.org/whatareyourmirandarights.html
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