5th Amendment Right to Be Free of Self-Incrimination

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5th Amendment Right to be Free of Self-Incrimination

The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution gives a person the right to refuse to answer questions or make any statements that are self-incriminating, which means to make a statement that accuses oneself of a criminal offense that could lead to criminal prosecution. If you have ever watched a movie or TV show, then more than likely you have heard the Miranda Rights being 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 appointed for you.” (mirandarights.org, 2009) Although wording may vary, this is the basic message that officers need to be sure is understood by a suspect.

In 1966 the Miranda Rights were created from the United States Supreme Court case of Miranda V. Arizona. When Ernesto Miranda was charged with rape, kidnapping, and robbery he was not informed of his rights before policy interrogated him. The police proceeded with a two hour interrogation in which Miranda allegedly confessed to committing the crimes, with no counsel being present. As the trial progressed the prosecution’s case was based solely on his confession. He was convicted and sentenced to 20 to 30 years in prison. Miranda then appealed claiming that the police unconstitutionally obtained his confession. The court disagreed and upheld the conviction. Then Miranda appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that prosecution could not use Miranda’s confession as evidence in a trial because the policy did not inform him of his right to an attorney. From all of this the Court made statements that police are required to read the Miranda Rights to anyone who is being detained and interrogated. (A. McBride, 2006)

Reading a suspect their rights ensures that a court will admit any statements made and enables them to be used as evidence in court. Therefore it is always in an...
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