Miranda vs. Arizona

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Miranda vs. Arizona

By | September 2008
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Ernesto Miranda was a poor Mexican immigrant living in Phoenix, Arizona, during the 1960’s. Miranda was arrested after a crime victim identified him in a police lineup. He was charged with rape and kidnapping and was interrogated for two hours while in police custody. The police officers questioning him did not inform him of his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, or of his Sixth Amendment right to the assistance of an attorney. As a result of the interrogation, he confessed in writing to the crimes with which he was charged. His written statement also included an acknowledgement that he was aware of his right against self-incrimination. During his trial, the prosecution used his confession to obtain a conviction, and he was sentenced to 20 to 30 years in prison on each count. Miranda's defense attorney appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court. His attorney argued that his confession should have been excluded from trial because he had not been informed of his rights, nor had an attorney been present during his interrogation. The police officers involved admitted that they had not given Miranda any explanation of his rights. They argued, however, that because Miranda had been convicted of a crime in the past, he must have been aware of his rights. The Arizona Supreme Court denied his appeal and upheld his conviction. The Fifth Amendment states that no person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself. The Sixth Amendment states that, "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right . . . to have the assistance of counsel for his defense (How to brief 2006)." The Supreme Court of the United States had made previous attempts to deal with these issues. In Brown v. Mississippi (1936), the Court had ruled that the Fifth Amendment protected individuals from being forced to confess. In Gideon v. Wainwright (1963), the Court held that persons accused of felonies have a fundamental right to an attorney,...