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Know your rights ! Miranda – More than words

by | May 18, 2016 | Firm News

“Miranda: More Than Words!” The veracity of this statement echoes loudly for many of those who have experienced its power. Those who have been exonerated after being wrongfully convicted and have been denied the opportunity to be informed of their constitutional rights upon arrest and before being questioned by the police or placed in police custody, know this power. They know that Miranda rights are more than just mere words. Police officers who have neglected to inform suspects of these rights also know the power of Miranda, as confessions and other statements may not be admitted into evidence in the absence of Miranda rights being read upon arrest.

The Constitution of the United States safeguards the rights of citizens. The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects those being placed in police custody against making self-incriminating statements. In the Land Mark case of Miranda v. Arizona, the Supreme Court of the United States acknowledged that in order to safeguard these rights a suspect or accused must be told, “that he has the right to remain silent, that anything he says can be used against him in a court of law, that he has the right to the presence of an attorney, and that if he cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed for him, this must be done prior to police questioning. This 1966 decision addressed the issue of incriminating statements and confessions made in four different cases, (Miranda v. Arizona, Vignera v. New York, Westover v. United States and California v. Stewat) in which each accused was taken in and held in police custody and interrogated, with the resulting statements being used in trial against the accused. [1]

The Supreme Court held that “there can be no doubt that the Fifth Amendment privilege is available outside of criminal court proceedings and serves to protect persons in all settings in which their freedom of action is curtailed in any significant way from being compelled to incriminate themselves.” As such, “the prosecution may not use statements, whether exculpatory or inculpatory, stemming from custodial interrogation of the defendant unless it demonstrates the use of procedural safeguards effective to secure the privilege against self-incrimination.[2] Armed with this arsenal of knowledge Miranda becomes more than words, for those who understand its power !

[1] http://www.uscourts.gov/educational-resources/educational-activities/facts-and-case-summary-miranda-v-arizona

[2] Ibid