Introduction to The History of Miranda Warnings and When They Apply
Miranda warnings are one of the most important rights an individual has during a criminal process. The Miranda warnings read:
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?”[i]
Miranda warnings do not always apply, and often times you will see Miranda warnings are read to an individual at the wrong time on television shows like Law and Order. There are specific times when Miranda warnings are required; otherwise any information obtained from the suspect will not be able to be used against the suspect at a later time.
When Do Miranda Warnings Apply?
There are only two requirements that the police must meet before Miranda warnings are required to be given to the suspect.[ii] First of all, the suspect has to be in police custody, and second, the suspect must be under interrogation.[iii] Until both of those requirements are met, the police do not need to read you your Miranda warnings and can use anything you say against you at a later time.
Now, both of those requirements seem easy enough to understand but that is not always the case and often times it leads to attorneys arguing about the facts in court. The first requirement, that the suspect must be in police custody, is generally defined as anytime the police deprive you of your freedom of action in a significant way.[iv] Realistically speaking, this means if you were arrested.[v] However, it can be argued that if the police do not let you leave a place, and you have no ability to just walk away – that you are technically in police custody.[vi] It is not always clear-cut like that, but the argument can be made. Generally though, in most jurisdictions, there must be an actual arrest before the police are required to give you Miranda warnings.[vii]
Next, the suspect must be under police interrogation.[viii] Now, you will know when you are being interrogated by the police, mainly because the police are required to give you warning that the interrogation is about to begin.[ix] This is pretty widely interpreted, so the police may not say to you “interrogation is about to begin”, they may say any number of other things, or just start questioning you in a manner that feels like an interrogation. That is why it is important to know what your rights are, that way you can either stay silent or ask for an attorney as soon as you are being interrogated. That is also the purpose of Miranda warnings – to inform someone of their rights. If the police fail to do so, anything you say to them could be tossed out of court, including confessions.
Now, if the police are just chatting with you and not necessarily interrogating you – then Miranda warnings are not required. This is a fine line to walk, but it is often done. Anything you say during that time period can be used against you later, which is why it is normally good to just stay quiet when you are with the police. However, if the police ask you what your name is or other identification – you should answer. Those types of questions are not something someone can avoide answer because they want to remain silent.
Prior to 2010, the police had to re-read the Miranda warnings every so often to a suspect in order to make sure protocol was properly taken. However, in 2010 there was a Supreme Court case that refined the rules for police interrogations.[x] In this case, the Court ruled that the police officers could begin a second interrogation of a suspect who had previously invoked his Miranda right to remain silent once two weeks had elapsed from the date of the original interrogation.[xi] The Court ruled that the police did not have to give the suspect another Miranda warning, even though two weeks time had passed since the last Miranda warning. The Court ruled that the Miranda warnings from two weeks prior remained in effect, and if the suspect decided to no longer remain silent – then anything they said could be used against them and that no violation of Miranda warnings had been violated. This is a specific situation where Miranda warnings did not have to be read again, but it is still common for police officers to re-read Miranda warnings during interrogation…just to be sure that the Miranda warnings are in full effect during the grueling interrogation process.
What happens if Miranda Warnings are Not Given?
That is simple – any information that is gathered by the police during a period where the suspect was under police custody AND being interrogated cannot be used in court against the suspect. This will include confessions, which could have resulted in a open and shut case for the prosecutor. But, if the police officers do not do their job properly, then the constitutional rights of the suspect were violated and the court will not allow that information to come into court. The case against the suspect will not automatically be dismissed, but if the only information the prosecutor has to go off of was the information impermissibly obtained –then the case could get thrown out.[xii] It is more likely than not that there is other evidence against the suspect that will help the prosecutors case, rather than just the inadmissible evidence that will get thrown out from not being read Miranda warnings.
The History of Miranda Warnings
The history of Miranda warnings are actually based right here in Phoenix, Arizona.[xiii] The event took place on March 13, 1963 with a man named Ernesto Miranda.[xiv] Ernesto Miranda was arrested, based upon circumstantial evidence the linked him to the kidnapping and rape of an eighteen-year-old woman ten days prior to the arrest.[xv] Ernesto Miranda was interrogated for two hours and after which he signed a confession to the rape charge on a form that included the following typed statement:
“I do hereby swear that I make this statement voluntarily and of my own free will, with no threats, coercion, or promises of immunity, and with knowledge of my legal rights, understanding any statement I make may be used against me.”[xvi]
Despite signing this confession, Ernesto Miranda was at no time told of his right to counsel.[xvii] Before he was given that form to sign, to write out his confession that he already gave orally, Ernesto Miranda was not informed of his right to stay silent and avoid incriminating himself.[xviii] Ernesto Miranda was also not informed that any statements he made would be used against him later.[xix] Once Ernesto Miranda received a court appointed lawyer, the lawyer made the objection to the use the confession on the grounds that it was not voluntarily made.[xx] The court overruled the lawyer’s objection because the court was going to admit the confession and other incriminating evidence.[xxi] Ernesto Miranda was convicted of the rape and kidnapping, for which he was sentenced to 20-30 years of imprisonment on each charge – which would run concurrently.
Ernesto Miranda’s attorney filed an appeal in the Arizona Supreme Court, to which he claimed that Ernesto Miranda’s confession was not fully voluntary and should not have been admitted into evidence during the initial trial. However, the Arizona Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s decision to admit the confession at the trial level.[xxii] The Arizona Supreme Court reasoned that since Ernesto Miranda did not specifically request an attorney, that the confession was still considered voluntary and it was appropriate to bring it in the court as evidence.
The case was then presented to the Supreme Court, which decided that the confession was not voluntary and it should have not been admitted into court.[xxiii] The Court determined that the police were coercive when obtaining the confession from Ernesto Miranda and that no confession could be admissible under the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination nor under the Sixth Amendment right to attorney unless the suspect had been made aware of his right and the suspect waived that right.[xxiv]
The Supreme Court decision created a requirement that all suspects in police custody and under interrogation must be given what was named the Miranda Warning, after Ernesto Miranda. Ernesto Miranda was released from prison, but was later killed in a bar fight. The man who was responsible for Ernesto Miranda’s death was, however, read his Miranda Warnings at the appropriate time.
Conclusion to The History of Miranda Warnings and When Miranda Warnings Apply
Miranda warnings are a crucial part of the criminal procedure for all suspects of a criminal offense. The Miranda warnings inform a person of their right to remain silent and their right to an attorney.[xxv] The right to remain silent is stemmed from the Fifth Amendment of the United States, which gives an individual the right against self-incrimination. The right to counsel is stemmed from the Sixth Amendment, which gives the individual the right to an attorney – which is especially important when the police are questioning a suspect. Having an attorney present during this questioning could be incredibly beneficial for the suspect, to ensure he does not answer any questions that would incriminate the suspect further. Call to speak with one of our experienced Phoenix criminal defense attorneys about Miranda warnings in your case.
It is important to remember that if you fail to invoke your right to remain silent, or the right to an attorney when the questioning begins, you can invoke those rights at any point during the police interrogation. You can invoke your constitutional rights at any point during a criminal proceeding, especially during a police interrogation.
[i] See What are your Miranda Rights? Miranda Warnings. org (Accessed August 18, 2016) http://www.mirandawarning.org/whatareyourmirandarights.html
[ii] See Miranda Warnings and Police Questioning Find Law (Accessed August 18, 2016) http://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-rights/miranda-warnings-and-police-questioning.html
[viii] See Miranda Warnings and Police Questioning Find Law (Accessed August 18, 2016) http://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-rights/miranda-warnings-and-police-questioning.html
[xii] See What If I Was Not Read My Rights? Miranda Warnings. Org (Accessed August 22, 2016) http://www.mirandawarning.org/whatifiwasntreadmyrights.html
[xiii] See The Miranda Rights are Established History (Accessed August 22, 2016) http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/the-miranda-rights-are-established
[xvii] See The Miranda Rights are Established History (Accessed August 22, 2016) http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/the-miranda-rights-are-established
[xxi] See The Miranda Rights are Established History (Accessed August 22, 2016) http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/the-miranda-rights-are-established
[xxv] See Miranda Warnings and Police Questioning Find Law (Accessed August 18, 2016) http://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-rights/miranda-warnings-and-police-questioning.html