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Miranda Rights Miranda Rights
by The Ovi Team
2017-06-13 10:00:13
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13th June 1966; Chief Justice Earl Warren delivers The Supreme Court landmark Miranda vs. Arizona decision, "that criminal suspects must be informed of their right to consult with an attorney and of their right against self-incrimination prior to questioning by police". Following The Supreme Court Miranda decision, the nation's police departments are required to inform arrested persons of their rights under the ruling, termed a Miranda warning.

miranta_400The Miranda warning (commonly, but incorrectly: Miranda rights, as the rights in question are defined in the U.S. Constitution) is a warning that is required to be given by police in the United States to criminal suspects in police custody (or in a custodial situation) before they are interrogated to inform them about their constitutional rights.

In Miranda v. Arizona, the Supreme Court of the United States held that an elicited incriminating statement by a suspect will not constitute admissible evidence unless the suspect was informed of the right to decline to make self-incriminatory statements and the right to legal counsel (since the so-called "Miranda rights"), and makes a knowing, intelligent and voluntary waiver of those rights. The Miranda warning is not a condition of detention, but rather a safeguard against self-incrimination; as a result, if law enforcement officials decline to offer a Miranda warning to an individual in their custody, they may still interrogate that person and act upon the knowledge gained, but may not use that person's statements to incriminate him in a criminal trial. As of a June 1, 2010, U.S. Supreme Court decision (Berghuis v. Thompkins), criminal suspects must now unambiguously invoke their right to remain silent and have an attorney represent them.

The concept of "Miranda rights" was enshrined in U.S. law following the 1966 Miranda v. Arizona Supreme Court decision, which found that the Fifth Amendment and Sixth Amendment rights of Ernesto Arturo Miranda had been violated during his arrest and trial for rape and kidnapping. (Miranda was subsequently retried, found guilty and sentenced to 20–30 years.) The Supreme Court did not specify the exact wording to use when informing a suspect of their rights. However, the Court did create a set of guidelines that must be followed. The ruling states: “...The person in custody must, prior to interrogation, be clearly informed that he or she has the right to remain silent, and that anything the person says will be used against that person in court; the person must be clearly informed that he or she has the right to consult with an attorney and to have that attorney present during questioning, and that, if he or she is indigent, an attorney will be provided at no cost to represent her or him.”

As a result, American English developed the verb Mirandize, meaning "to read the Miranda warning" to a suspect (when the suspect is arrested).
Notably, the Miranda rights do not have to be read in any particular order, and they do not have to precisely match the language of the Miranda decision, as long as they are adequately and fully conveyed. California v. Prysock, 453 U.S. 355 (1981).
 
On June 1, 2010, in deciding the Berghuis v. Thompkins case, the United States Supreme Court declared that criminal defendants who have been read the Miranda rights (and who have indicated they understand them and have not already waived them), must explicitly state during or before an interrogation begins that they wish to be silent and not speak to police in order for that protection against self-incrimination to apply. If they speak to police about the incident before the Miranda right to remain silent is mentioned, or afterwards at any point during the interrogation or detention, the words they speak may be used against them if they have not stated they do not want to speak to police. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote the opinion and was joined by Justices Scalia, Alito, and Thomas and by Chief Justice Roberts. Justices Stevens, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Breyer dissented. Elena Kagan, who had presented the government's case as Solicitor General of the U.S. and who was nominated to succeed Justice Stevens, supported Kennedy's ruling in her arguments that pointed out that the ruling spelled out for prosecutors and defendants just how the right against self-incrimination applies in such cases. Those who oppose it state that the requirement that the defendant must speak to indicate his intention to remain silent further erodes the ability of the defendant to stay completely silent about the case. This opposition must be put in context with the second option offered by the majority opinion, which allowed that the defendant had the option of remaining silent, saying: “Had he wanted to remain silent, he could have said nothing in response or unambiguously invoked his Miranda rights, ending the interrogation." Thus having been "Mirandized" a suspect may avow explicitly the invocation of these rights, or, alternatively, simply remain silent. Absent the former "anything [said] can and will be used against [the defendant] in a court of law."

The rule of Miranda is not, however, absolute and an exception exists in cases of “public safety.” This is a limited and case-specific exception to the general rule of Miranda which allows certain unadvised statements (given without Miranda warnings) to be admissible into evidence at trial when they were elicited in circumstances where there is great danger to public safety.
 
The public safety exception is derived from New York v. Quarles, a case in which the Supreme Court considered the admissibility of a statement elicited by a police officer who apprehended a rape suspect who was thought to be carrying a firearm. The arrest took place in a crowded grocery store. When the officer arrested the suspect, he found an empty shoulder holster, handcuffed the suspect, and asked him where the gun was. The suspect nodded in the direction of the gun (which was near some empty cartons) and said, “The gun is over there.” The Supreme Court found that such an unadvised statement was admissible in evidence because "in a kaleidoscopic situation such as the one confronting these officers, where spontaneity rather than adherence to a police manual is necessarily the order of the day, the application of the exception we recognize today should not be made to depend on post hoc findings at a suppression hearing concerning the subjective motivation of the police officer.” Thus, the jurisprudential rule of Miranda must yield in “a situation where concern for public safety must be paramount to adherence to the literal language of the prophylactic rules enunciated in Miranda.” The rule of Miranda is not, therefore, absolute and can be a bit more elastic in cases of “public safety.”

Within the European Union, a gradual process of harmonising the laws of individual countries has resulted in calls for a common letter of rights which would apply to all EU citizens. The proposed common standard would protect:
*access to legal advice;
*translation assistance as needed;
*protection for those unable to follow the proceedings; and
*consular assistance for foreign detainees

These would be contained in a "letter of rights" which would be a printed document to be given to suspects after they are detained and before interrogation. The right to silence does not fall under the proposed common standard. This has been criticised on the grounds that the "letter of rights" would be one from which what some people consider to be the most important right is missing, and that this would be confusing for the accused rather than helpful. On the other hand, obstacles to its enactment include the anti-terrorism laws of certain EU members which conflict with these proposed rights.



   
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