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The Miranda Decision

Updated on June 22, 2019

Ernesto Miranda

Following a sequence of events involving Ernesto Miranda, the Miranda Rights were established in order to protect citizens from self-incrimination.

Miranda was convicted of kidnapping, robbery, and more after confessing during a police interrogation. After the case was taken to the Supreme Court in Miranda v. Arizona (1966), the Court ruled that suspects must be given a verbal warning and be made aware that they have a right to a lawyer during questioning.

After Miranda v. Arizona was finished, Miranda was tried again and, even with the exclusion of his previous testimony, he was still convicted.

Fun Fact

Miranda was later killed in a bar fight in which the guilty party, using his Miranda Rights, remained silent. Miranda's killer was never convicted.

C'est la vie!

What are the Miranda Rights?

If you have every seen a cop show and/or movie, you have certainly heard the Miranda Rights: “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?” Though these rights seem quite straight forward and direct, how many people actually understand them?

Understanding the Miranda Rights

The average person may never need to understand them - I hope that I'm never in a situation that requires me to fully understand the weight of these rights and my following decision. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 68% of state inmates never received a High School Diploma (26% reported that they received a GED while incarcerated). With that in mind, I do not think that it's fair to assume that someone understands what their rights are, even after being read the Miranda Rights.

"I had the right to remain silent, I just didn’t have the ability." - Comedian Ron White

I personally, always answer yes to everything. If I'm in a store and I can't find something and an employee asks if I'm finding everything okay - "Oh yeah absolutely!" If I'm sitting in class and the teacher asks if anyone has any question if no one else asks a question, I won't either. Now, I'm not saying that arrested individuals suffer from my crippling social anxiety and possess my aptitude for lying, but it's fair to assume that most criminals (and most people in general) don't actually understand their rights.

If it were up to me, I would change the system so that the arrested individual had no reason to not understand their rights. Prior to interrogation, perhaps a short video could be shown or a maybe a nifty brochure could be printed out that briefly discussed each portion of the Miranda Rights and the benefits and consequences of accepted or waiving said rights.

References

Bureau of Justice Statistics. (2013, January 1). Education And Correctional Populations.

Retrieved March 24, 2019, from https://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=814

Hendrie, Edward M. (1997, Mar.). Beyond Miranda. FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, 3(66), 25–32.

Retrieved from http://heinonline.org.libauth.purdueglobal.edu/HOL/Page

?handle=hein.journals/fbileb66&id=67&collection=journals&index=journals/fbileb

MirandaWarning.org. (2019). What Are Your Miranda Rights. Retrieved March 24, 2019, from

http://www.mirandawarning.org/whatareyourmirandarights.html

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