Everyone has heard the term Miranda Rights, whether that be when taking a law class, during the course of a television show, or perhaps through personal experience with their use, but what do these two words really mean, where did they come from and how to they apply to an individual's everyday life? The answers to this question are neither simple nor fully answered today, as challenges to Miranda Rights appear in courtrooms routinely. However, the basis for Miranda Rights can be traced back to a landmark case handed down from the Supreme Court of the United States in 1965 entitled Miranda v. Arizona. Ernesto Miranda was an immigrant from Mexico living in the Phoenix, Arizona area in 1963 when he was accused of kidnapping and raping an 18-year-old woman. The victim picked Miranda out of a lineup, and he was subsequently interrogated for two hours during which the police investigators failed to advise him of either his Fifth Amendment Right against self incrimination or his Sixth Amendment Right to request the assistance of an attorney. Over the course of this interrogation, Ernesto Miranda confessed and signed a written confession of his crimes. Included in his confession was acknowledgement that he had waived his right against self-incrimination. After his conviction based on his confession, Miranda's attorney appealed his sentence on the basis that his confession should be excluded because Miranda had not been informed of his rights by the interrogators. The police officers involved offered the defense that because Miranda had a past conviction, he should have been well aware of his rights. The Arizona Supreme Court denied Miranda's appeal, and his conviction was upheld. Miranda's attorney then appealed the case to the United States Supreme Court in 1965, and the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case. The Miranda v Arizona case was combined with three other similar cases. When the Supreme Court handed down the decision 5-4 in Miranda's favor, the resulting rights afforded to those being questioned or detained by police became popularly known as Miranda Rights. Miranda Rights must include the following as described by Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren: 1.
You have the right to remain silent.
Anything you say can and will be held against you in a court of law. 3.
You have the right to an attorney.
If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.
Miranda Rights are meant to be read to those being detained by police prior to an interrogation about a crime, or when a suspect is taken into custody. A police officer must be careful in the order in which they question the suspect and read the suspect his or her rights. If care is not given to this, the case could turn out in similar fashion to the decision of Fellers v U.S. Two police officers went to the home of John J. Fellers to arrest Fellers because of an indictment for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. The officers relayed to Fellers that they wanted to discuss his involvement in the conspiracy and Fellers subsequently admitted he had used methamphetamine and had also associated with some of the others named in the indictment. Fellers was not advised of his Miranda Rights at this time. The officers then proceeded to take Fellers to jail where he received his Miranda Rights, signed a waiver and reiterated the statements made at his home prior to being transported to jail and having his Miranda Rights read to him. Upon trial in Federal District Court, Fellers' Miranda Rights were found to be violated at the time of the first statement made at his home and that first statement was suppressed. The second statement made at the jail was allowed and Fellers was convicted of conspiracy to distribute. The Fellers case was eventually held before the Supreme Court of the United States. The Court came back with a unanimous ruling to uphold Fellers conviction. Miranda Rights are more than just four...
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