Miranda v. Arizona

384 U.S. 436 (1966).

This landmark case involved facts from 4 consolidated cases. Each of the cases involved the following similar circumstances:

  1. The suspects in each case were taken into custody;
  2. The suspects in each case were questioned in a police-dominated environment;
  3. The suspects in each case were not informed of their Fifth Amendment right against compulsory self-incrimination; and
  4. The state in each case attempted to use the statements obtained from the suspects during the interrogation against them.
Ernesto Miranda
A mug shot of Ernesto Miranda whose conviction led to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Miranda v. Arizona.

The issue presented to the U.S. Supreme Court was whether the statements obtained by law enforcement from suspects under the foregoing circumstances could be used against the suspects in their criminal trials. The Court held that, any statements, whether exculpatory or inculpatory, obtained as a result of custodial interrogation may not be used against the suspect in criminal trial unless the prosecutor proves that the officers provided procedural safeguards effective to secure the suspect’s privilege against compulsory self-incrimination: “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.”

The Court defined “custodial interrogation” which requires the “Miranda Warnings” as questioning initiated by law enforcement officers after a person has been taken into police custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way.

Reference Desk

United States v. Rivas-Lopez, 988 F. Supp. 1424 (1997)

In Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966), the Supreme Court announced a new analytical approach under the Self-Incrimination Clause of the Fifth Amendment in cases involving custodial interrogation. Mirandaheld that no statements stemming from custodial interrogation of a suspect would be admissible unless the police first provided four “warnings.”[5] The Supreme Court acknowledged that the Constitution requires no “particular solution for the inherent compulsions of the interrogation process,”[6] and left open the opportunity for Congress and the States to “develop their own safeguards for the privilege, so long as they are fully as effective as [the four warnings] in informing accused persons of their right of silence and in affording a continuous opportunity to exercise it.” Id. at 490, 86 S.Ct. at 1636. The court held, notwithstanding, that unless the alternative procedures were equally as effective, the warning “safeguards must be observed.” Id. at 467, 86 S.Ct. at 1624.

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