Interrogations and Confessions
Without doubt, it is quite obvious that many citizens do not know their rights. This can even be made worse when these citizens are criminals or suspects in a crime. There is always this public perception that criminals have no rights and should have no rights. The police, even knowing that this is not the case, may often tend to bypass the rights of a criminal in a bid to resolve a case quickly and as a result, may subject the individual to illegal interrogation and coerce them into obtaining a confession by illegal means.
The US constitution places a high degree of value on people’s rights to be free from certain forms of questioning (Worrall, 134). This is emphasized in the fact that the constitution has outlined three constitutional approaches to regulating confessions as outlined by Sage Publications (291) viz: The Involuntariness Test : Based on the Due Process Clause of the 5th Amendment and of the 14th Amendment, The Miranda Rule: Required under the 5th Amendment, and
The protection: Granted under the 6th Amendment right to counsel.
The Miranda Warning and its Impact on Interrogations and Confessions As a rule of thumb, the 5th, 6th and the 14th amendments place restrictions on what the government is allowed do in order to obtain confessions from a criminal suspect, thereby underlying the importance of human rights in the constitution. The key element in emphasizing this right of the suspect is the Miranda Warning, popularly known as the Miranda Rights. By law, the police is required to recite the Miranda Rights to any criminal suspect prior to any form of questioning. The key elements of the warning emphasize the rights of the individual to remain silent and his right to an attorney. During this recitation, it is also the duty of the Police to ensure that the suspect understands what is required of him. For this reason, the rights may be read out to the individual in its more elaborate form as shown below, although other simpler formats may be used (Walenta, 2010; emphasis mine): “You have the right to remain silent and refuse to answer questions. Do you understand? Anything you do say may be used against you in a court of law. Do you understand? You have the right to consult an attorney before speaking to the police and to have an attorney present during questioning now or in the future. Do you understand? If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you before any questioning if you wish. Do you understand? If you decide to answer questions now without an attorney present you will still have the right to stop answering at any time until you talk to an attorney. Do you understand? Knowing and understanding your rights as I have explained them to you, are you willing to answer my questions without an attorney present?”
In as much as these requirements can be frustrating to both to the police and to victims or families of victims of the crime, yet it is important that the police does not obtain the evidence it needs to prosecute an individual either by intimidation or coercion and that when they do obtain evidence, that this cannot be challenged by any appeal process owing to the manner in the evidence was obtained.
How Interrogation Affects a Case
Interrogation gives the suspect that extra information to make a decision whether or not to waive his rights when called upon. As interrogation begins, the accused has the opportunity to make informed decisions based on the direction the interrogation is leading him, whether he or she needs to consider continuing to answer the questions thrown at him, or to take the contrary decision to insist on silence and cease cooperation in his own best interest. If the suspect knows that the Miranda rights can be called upon at any time, he or she should have the opportunity to rethink its immediate interests as well as his interests in the long-term. The risk however, especially for an intelligent...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document