Miranda v. Arizona

Miranda v. Arizona

Argued February 28  March 1, 1966
Decided June 13, 1966
Full case name Miranda v. State of Arizona; Westover v. United States; Vignera v. State of New York; State of California v. Stewart

384 U.S. 436 (more)

86 S. Ct. 1602; 16 L. Ed. 2d 694; 1966 U.S. LEXIS 2817; 10 A.L.R.3d 974
Argument Oral argument
Prior history Defendant . Superior Ct.; affirmed, 401 P.2d 721 (Ariz. 1965); cert. granted, 382 U.S. 925 (1965)
Subsequent history Retrial on remand, defendant convicted, Ariz. Superior Ct.; affirmed, 450 P.2d 364 (Ariz. 1969); rehearing denied, Ariz. Supreme Ct. March 11, 1969; cert. denied, 396 U.S. 868 (1969)
The Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination requires law enforcement officials to advise a suspect interrogated in custody of his or her rights to remain silent and to obtain an attorney. Supreme Court of Arizona reversed and remanded.
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Warren, joined by Black, Douglas, Brennan, Fortas
Concur/dissent Clark
Dissent Harlan, joined by Stewart, White
Dissent White, joined by Harlan, Stewart
Laws applied
U.S. Const. amends. V, XIV

Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), was a landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court. In a 5–4 majority, the Court held that both inculpatory and exculpatory statements made in response to interrogation by a defendant in police custody will be admissible at trial only if the prosecution can show that the defendant was informed of the right to consult with an attorney before and during questioning and of the right against self-incrimination before police questioning, and that the defendant not only understood these rights, but voluntarily waived them.

This has a significant impact on law enforcement in the United States, by making what became known as the Miranda rights part of routine police procedure to ensure that suspects were informed of their rights. The Supreme Court decided Miranda with three other consolidated cases: Westover v. United States, Vignera v. New York, and California v. Stewart.

The Miranda warning (often shortened to "Miranda", or "Mirandizing" a suspect) is the name of the formal 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, in accordance with the Miranda ruling. Its purpose is to ensure the accused are aware of, and reminded of, these rights under the U.S. Constitution, and that they know they can invoke them at any time during the interview. The circumstances triggering the Miranda safeguards, i.e. Miranda rights, are "custody" and "interrogation". Custody means formal arrest or the deprivation of freedom to an extent associated with formal arrest. Interrogation means explicit questioning or actions that are reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response.

Per the U.S. Supreme Court decision Berghuis v. Thompkins (June 1, 2010), criminal suspects who are aware of their right to silence and to an attorney, but choose not to "unambiguously" invoke them, may find any subsequent voluntary statements treated as an implied waiver of their rights, and used in evidence. At least one scholar has argued that Thompkins effectively gutted Miranda.[1]


Legal aid movement

During the 1960s, a movement which provided defendants with legal aid emerged from the collective efforts of various bar associations.

In the civil realm, it led to the creation of the Legal Services Corporation under the Great Society program of President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Escobedo v. Illinois, a case which closely foreshadowed Miranda, provided for the presence of counsel during police interrogation. This concept extended to a concern over police interrogation practices, which were considered by many to be barbaric and unjust. Coercive interrogation tactics were known in period slang as the "third degree".

Arrest and conviction

On March 13, 1963, Ernesto Miranda was arrested, by the Phoenix Police Department, based on circumstantial evidence linking him to the kidnapping and rape of an eighteen-year-old woman ten days earlier.[2] After two hours of interrogation by police officers, Miranda signed a confession to the rape charge on forms that included the typed statement: "I do hereby swear that I make this statement voluntarily and of my own free will, with no threats, coercion, or promises of immunity, and with full knowledge of my legal rights, understanding any statement I make may be used against me."[3]

However, at no time was Miranda told of his right to counsel. Before being presented with the form on which he was asked to write out the confession he had already given orally, he was not advised of his right to remain silent, nor was he informed that his statements during the interrogation would be used against him. At trial, when prosecutors offered Miranda's written confession as evidence, his court-appointed lawyer, Alvin Moore, objected that because of these facts, the confession was not truly voluntary and should be excluded. Moore's objection was overruled and based on this confession and other evidence, Miranda was convicted of rape and kidnapping. He was sentenced to 20–30 years of imprisonment on each charge, with sentences to run concurrently. Moore filed Miranda's appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court, claiming that Miranda's confession was not fully voluntary and should not have been admitted into the court proceedings. The Arizona Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's decision to admit the confession in State v. Miranda, 401 P.2d 721 (Ariz. 1965). In affirmation, the Arizona Supreme Court emphasized heavily the fact that Miranda did not specifically request an attorney.[4]

Opinion of the Supreme Court

Chief Justice Earl Warren, a former prosecutor, delivered the opinion of the Court, ruling that due to the coercive nature of the custodial interrogation by police (Warren cited several police training manuals which had not been provided in the arguments), no confession could be admissible under the Fifth Amendment self-incrimination clause and Sixth Amendment right to an attorney unless a suspect had been made aware of his rights and the suspect had then waived them:

The person in custody must, prior to interrogation, be clearly informed that he has the right to remain silent, and that anything he says will be used against him in court; he must be clearly informed that he has the right to consult with a lawyer and to have the lawyer with him during interrogation, and that, if he is indigent, a lawyer will be appointed to represent him.[5]

Thus, Miranda's conviction was overturned. The Court also made clear what had to happen if the suspect chose to exercise his or her rights:

If the individual indicates in any manner, at any time prior to or during questioning, that he wishes to remain silent, the interrogation must cease... If the individual states that he wants an attorney, the interrogation must cease until an attorney is present. At that time, the individual must have an opportunity to confer with the attorney and to have him present during any subsequent questioning.
Justice Brennan's comments on the Miranda decision.

Warren pointed to the existing practice of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the rules of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, both of which required notifying a suspect of his right to remain silent; the FBI warning included notice of the right to counsel.

However, the dissenting justices accused the majority of overreacting to the problem of coercive interrogations, and anticipated a drastic effect. They believed that, once warned, suspects would always demand attorneys, and deny the police the ability to gain confessions.

Clark's concurrence in part, dissent in part

In a separate concurrence in part, dissent in part, Justice Tom C. Clark argued that the Warren Court went "too far too fast". Instead, Justice Clark would use the "totality of the circumstances" test enunciated by Justice Goldberg in Haynes v. Washington. Under this test, the court would:

consider in each case whether the police officer prior to custodial interrogation added the warning that the suspect might have counsel present at the interrogation and, further, that a court would appoint one at his request if he was too poor to employ counsel. In the absence of warnings, the burden would be on the State to prove that counsel was knowingly and intelligently waived or that in the totality of the circumstances, including the failure to give the necessary warnings, the confession was clearly voluntary.

Harlan's dissent

In dissent, Justice John Marshall Harlan II wrote that "nothing in the letter or the spirit of the Constitution or in the precedents squares with the heavy-handed and one-sided action that is so precipitously taken by the Court in the name of fulfilling its constitutional responsibilities". Harlan closed his remarks by quoting former Justice Robert H. Jackson: "This Court is forever adding new stories to the temples of constitutional law, and the temples have a way of collapsing when one story too many is added."

White's dissent

Justice Byron White took issue with the court announcing a new constitutional right when it had no "factual and textual bases" in the Constitution or previous opinions of the Court for the rule announced in the opinion. He stated: "The proposition that the privilege against self-incrimination forbids in-custody interrogation without the warnings specified in the majority opinion and without a clear waiver of counsel has no significant support in the history of the privilege or in the language of the Fifth Amendment." Nor did Justice White believe it had any basis in English common law.

White further warned of the dire consequences of the majority opinion:

I have no desire whatsoever to share the responsibility for any such impact on the present criminal process.

In some unknown number of cases, the Court's rule will return a killer, a rapist or other criminal to the streets and to the environment which produced him, to repeat his crime whenever it pleases him. As a consequence, there will not be a gain, but a loss, in human dignity.

Subsequent developments

After the Miranda decision, the nation's police departments were required to inform arrested persons or suspects of their rights under the ruling. Such information is called a Miranda warning.

Miranda was retried after the original case against him was thrown out, and this time the prosecution, instead of using the confession, called witnesses, including Twila Hoffman, a woman with whom Miranda was living at the time of the offense, who testified that he had told her of committing the crime, and introduced other evidence.[6] Miranda was convicted in 1967 and sentenced to serve 20 to 30 years. The Supreme Court of Arizona affirmed,[7] and the United States Supreme Court denied review.[8] Miranda was paroled in 1972. After his release, he returned to his old neighborhood and made a modest living autographing police officers' "Miranda cards" which contained the text of the warning, for reading to arrestees. He was stabbed to death during an argument in a bar on January 31, 1976.[9] A suspect was arrested, but he, unlike Miranda, exercised his right to remain silent. With no evidence against him, he was released.[10]

Another three defendants whose cases had been tied in with Miranda'san armed robber, a stick-up man, and a bank robbereither made plea bargains to lesser charges or were found guilty again despite the exclusion of their confessions.[11]

Since it is usually required that the suspects be asked if they understand their rights, courts have also ruled that any subsequent waiver of Miranda rights must be knowing, intelligent, and voluntary. Many American police departments have pre-printed Miranda waiver forms which a suspect must sign and date (after hearing and reading the warnings again) if an interrogation is to occur.

Data from the FBI Uniform Crime Reports shows a sharp reduction in the clearance rate of violent and property crimes after Miranda.[12]

The Miranda decision was widely criticized when it came down, as many felt it was unfair to inform suspected criminals of their rights, as outlined in the decision. Richard Nixon and other conservatives denounced Miranda for undermining the efficiency of the police, and argued the ruling would contribute to an increase in crime. Nixon, upon becoming President, promised to appoint judges who would be "strict constructionists" and who would exercise judicial restraint. Many supporters of law enforcement were angered by the decision's negative view of police officers. The federal Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 purported to overrule Miranda for federal criminal cases and restore the "totality of the circumstances" test that had prevailed previous to Miranda.[13]

The validity of this provision of the law, which is still codified at 18 U.S.C. § 3501, was not ruled on for another 30 years because the Justice Department never attempted to rely on it to support the introduction of a confession into evidence at any criminal trial. Miranda was undermined by several subsequent decisions which seemed to grant several exceptions to the "Miranda warnings", undermining its claim to be a necessary corollary of the Fifth Amendment. The exceptions and developments that occurred over the years included:

Finally, Miranda survived a strong challenge in Dickerson v. United States, 530 U.S. 428 (2000), where the validity of Congress's overruling of Miranda through § 3501 was tested. At issue was whether the Miranda warnings were actually compelled by the Constitution, or were rather merely measures enacted as a matter of judicial policy. In Dickerson, the Court, speaking through Chief Justice Rehnquist, upheld Miranda 7–2 and stated that "the warnings have become part of our national culture". In dissent, Justice Scalia argued Miranda warnings were not constitutionally required. He cited several cases demonstrating a majority of the then-current court, counting himself, and Justices Kennedy, O'Connor, and Thomas, as well as the Chief Justice (who had just delivered a contrary opinion), "[were] on record as believing that a violation of Miranda is not a violation of the Constitution".

Over time, interrogators began to think of techniques to honor the "letter" but not the "spirit" of Miranda. In the case of Missouri v. Seibert, 542 U.S. 600 (2004), the Supreme Court halted one of the more controversial practices. Missouri police were deliberately withholding Miranda warnings and questioning suspects until they obtained confessions, then giving the warnings, getting waivers, and getting confessions again. Justice Souter wrote for the plurality: "Strategists dedicated to draining the substance out of Miranda cannot accomplish by training instructions what Dickerson held Congress could not do by statute."[15]

United States v. Garibay points out another important matter in regards to expansion of Miranda. Garibay was arrested and never received his warning, and no waiver of rights was granted. Garibay barely spoke English and clearly showed a lack of understanding; indeed, "the agent admitted that he had to rephrase questions when the defendant appeared confused."[16]

The Court ruled the waiver of rights was not valid due to the defendant’s low I.Q. and poor English language skills. The court investigated many facets of his waiver and discovered that Mr. Garibay was missing all of those items that they were looking for. He never signed a waiver, he only received his warnings verbally, and in English, and no interpreter was provided although there were ones available. The lack of translated Miranda warnings adds another twist to the Miranda v. Arizona case.

Berghuis v. Thompkins (2010) is a ruling where the Supreme Court held that a suspect's "ambiguous or equivocal" statement or no statements do not mean that police must end an interrogation.[17] At least one scholar has argued that Thompkins effectively gutted Miranda. In The Right to Remain Silent, Charles Weisselberg argues that "the majority in Thompkins rejected the fundamental underpinnings of Miranda v. Arizona’s prophylactic rule and established a new one that fails to protect the rights of suspects." and that "But in Thompkins, neither Michigan nor the Solicitor General were able to cite any decision in which a court found that a suspect had given an implied waiver after lengthy questioning. Thompkins persevered for almost three hours before succumbing to his interrogators. In finding a waiver on these facts, Thompkins gives us an implied waiver doctrine on steroids."[1]

See also


  1. 1 2 Charles Weisselberg and Stephanos Bibas, The Right to Remain Silent, 159 U. Pa. L. Rev. PENNumbra 69 (2010), Available at: http://scholarship.law.berkeley.edu/facpubs/2181 (Retrieved May 2, 2016)
  2. Miranda also matched the description given by a robbery victim of the perpetrator in a robbery several months earlier. He was simultaneously interrogated about both of these crimes, confessed to both, but was not asked to and did not write down his confession to the robbery. He was separately tried and convicted of the robbery and sentenced to 20 to 25 years of imprisonment. This crime, trial, and sentence is separate from the rape-kidnapping case appealed to the Supreme Court.
  3. Michael S. Lief and H. Mitchell Caldwell "'You Have the Right to Remain Silent,'" American Heritage, August/September 2006.
  4. Miranda's oral confession in the robbery case was also appealed and the Arizona Supreme Court likewise affirmed the trial court's decision to admit it in State v. Miranda, 401 P.2d 716. This case was not part of the appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States.
  5. Syllabus to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Miranda v. Arizona, holding 1.(d).
  6. State v. Miranda, 104 Ariz. 174, 176, 450 P.2d 364, 366 (1969).
  7. State v. Miranda, 104 Ariz. 174, 450 P.2d 364 (1969)
  8. 396 U.S. 868 (1969).
  9. "Miranda Slain; Main Figure in Landmark Suspects' Rights Case". The New York Times. February 1, 1976. Retrieved May 12, 2010.
  10. Charles Montaldo, Miranda Rights and Warning: Landmark Case Evolved from 1963 Ernesto Miranda Arrest, about.com; accessed 13 June 2014.
  11. "The Law: Catching Up with Miranda". Time. March 3, 1967. Retrieved November 7, 2011.
  12. "Handcuffing the Cops: Miranda's Harmful Effects on Law Enforcement | NCPA". 2015-05-18. Retrieved 2016-09-28.
  13. "Cite Miranda And Go Free". Sarasota Journal. 31 May 1968. p. 7.
  14. People vs. Davis, S056425.
  15. "Missouri v. Seibert, section VI". Archived from the original on May 25, 2009. Retrieved 2010-05-07. Hosted by Duke University School of Law.
  16. Einesman, Floralynn (1999). "Confessions and Culture: The Interaction of Miranda and Diversity". Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology. 90 (1): 1–48 [p. 41]. JSTOR 1144162. NCJ 182327.
  17. Berghuis v. Thompkins, 560 U.S. 370 (2010).

Further reading

External links

Wikisource has original text related to this article:
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 12/1/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.