Miranda V Arizona 1966 – Landmark Supreme Court Cases

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  • Post last modified:July 9, 2017

Miranda V Arizona (1966)

Miranda V Arizona is one of the landmark cases in the history of Supreme Court. Landmark cases are those that have had a major impact on the interpretation of important laws in US. They have proved turning points in the history of law in US.  These cases have mainly dealt with unique situations and set precedents to be followed thereafter.  Miranda V Arizona was a similar case that gave birth to Miranda warnings which Americans today take for granted. This case had laid down the requirement for detained criminals being told of their constitutional rights before their questioning by the police.

The case had begun with the arrest of Ernesto Miranda, a resident of Phoenix who had been charged with crimes of kidnapping, robbery and rape. However, in Miranda’s case, the police missed to inform him of his rights before it questioned him. The interrogation that lasted two long hours, resulted in Miranda’s confession of the crimes. At the time of the interrogation, Miranda was not provided with a counsel. Moreover, he was only educated till ninth grade had a history of mental problems. The prosecution presented his confession at the trial based on which Miranda was sentenced to twenty to thirty years of imprisonment. Miranda appealed against it before the Arizona supreme court alleging that is confession had been obtained forcefully. The Arizona Supreme Court did not agree. It upheld his conviction. Miranda, as a result moved to the US Supreme Court where is case was reviewed in the year 1966.

 

In a 5-4 decision, Supreme Court judge, Chief Justice Earl Warren ruled that the evidence produced by the police in Miranda’s case was unconstitutional. The police had failed to inform Miranda of his rights to legal counsel and that his confession could be used as evidence against him in the court. The Supreme Court cited the fifth and sixth amendments in this regard. The Fifth Amendment to the US constitution, makes it mandatory for the police to provide the convict with the necessary warnings which also allows the victim the right to refuse to give any self-incriminatory statement. Similarly, the sixth amendment allows the convict the right to have an attorney. The court also stated that without these rights the vulnerability of the detainees increases. The right against self incrimination has remained an important part of the Anglo American law since long.

In this regard the court also cited the worrisome trend of forced confessions that could lead to wrong convictions. So, this was both against law and the spirit of the US constitution. The criminal defendants cannot be deprived of their basic liberties. The presence of an attorney at the time of interrogation is equally important since it lets the defendant speak without fear and pressure. It also eliminates the chances of forced confessions. Confession obtained by depriving the criminal defendants of their basic rights cannot be considered constitutional.

So, in order to protect the rights of the criminal defendants and to prevent the widespread misuse of authority by police, the court created statements that the police was required to tell detainees before they were interrogated. Today, people know these statements as Miranda rights. The Miranda Rights require the police to tell the detainee of his right to remain silent and that whatever he said could be used against him in the court at the time of trial. Miranda rights also require the police to inform suspects of their right to an attorney who can be with them at the time of their interrogation. Since, Miranda’s confession was obtained without offering him his constitutional rights, the court reversed the decision. Again, his case was considered without admitting the evidence. Thus, the role of Miranda V Arizona has remained very important in balancing the powers of the police with the rights of the Suspects.

Abhijeet Pratap

Abhijeet has been blogging on educational topics and business research since 2016. He graduated with a Hons. in English literature from BRABU and an MBA from the Asia-Pacific Institute of Management, New Delhi. He likes to blog and share his knowledge and research in business management, marketing, literature and other areas with his readers.