Miranda v. Arizona | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction / Procedural Law

Miranda v. Arizona is a landmark Supreme Court case in the United States that established the Miranda warning, which must be given by police to criminal suspects in custody before they are interrogated to inform them of their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and their Sixth Amendment right to an attorney.

Miranda v. Arizona is one of the most important and well-known landmark Supreme Court cases in the United States. Decided in 1966, the case established what is now known as the Miranda warning. The Miranda warning is a set of statements that police officers must read to criminal suspects in custody before they are interrogated. These statements inform suspects of their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and their Sixth Amendment right to an attorney.

The case arose from the arrest of Ernesto Miranda, a man who was charged with the rape and kidnapping of a woman in Arizona. After being arrested and taken into police custody, Miranda was interrogated by police for two hours. During the interrogation, Miranda signed a written confession, which he later recanted. At his trial, the prosecution used the confession as evidence against him, and he was convicted and sentenced to 20 to 30 years in prison.

Miranda appealed his conviction to the Supreme Court, arguing that his confession was obtained in violation of his Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights. The Court agreed, and in a 5-4 decision, it ruled that the confession was inadmissible in court because Miranda had not been informed of his rights before he made the statement.

The Court’s decision in Miranda v. Arizona was based on the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the Constitution. The Fifth Amendment provides that no person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, and the Sixth Amendment provides that a person accused of a crime has the right to counsel. The Court held that Miranda’s confession had been obtained in violation of both of these rights.

In its decision, the Court established a new set of guidelines for police officers to follow when questioning criminal suspects in custody. These guidelines became known as the Miranda warning, and they required police to inform suspects of their right to remain silent and their right to an attorney before any questioning could take place. The Court also ruled that these rights could be waived, but only if the suspect did so voluntarily and with a full understanding of the consequences.

The impact of Miranda v. Arizona has been significant. The Miranda warning is now a routine part of police procedure in the United States, and it is known and recognized by most Americans. The case has also had an impact on the way that police conduct interrogations, and it has led to a greater emphasis on protecting the rights of criminal suspects.

However, Miranda v. Arizona has also been the subject of significant criticism. Some legal scholars argue that the decision has made it more difficult for police to obtain confessions and has led to an increase in crime. Others argue that the Miranda warning does not go far enough to protect the rights of criminal suspects and that police still have too much power in interrogations.

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Last Modified: 04/08/2023

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