MIRANDA VERSUS THE STATE OF ARIZONA.
The Miranda Case:
Early in 1963, an 18- year old woman was kidnapped and raped in Phoenix, Arizona. The police investigated the case, and soon found and arrested a poor, and mentally disturbed man. The name of this man was Ernesto Miranda, a name that would become well known in American constitutional studies. Miranda was 23 years old when he was arrested. He confessed that he had kidnapped and raped the young woman after only two (2) hours of questioning.1 By confessing to the crime, Miranda was convicted for kidnapping and rape.
However, when Miranda was arrested he was not told his rights that are stated in amendment number five (5). On appeal, Mirandas lawyers pointed out that the police had never told him that he had the right to be represented by a lawyer, and that he could remain silent if he wished to do so. In addition, he was not told that everything that he said could be used against him. In the end of 1966, the United States Supreme Court gave support to the defendant side by only a 5-4 majority.2 The Supreme Court decision detailed the principles governing police interrogation. In addition, they decided hat the police have to make certain points clear for the accused before questioning and suspect.
The Miranda case solely dealt with the first ten Amendments, or the so called "bill of rights" amendments. According to Amendment number five (5) anyone including foreigners arrested in the United States has certain rights and privileges that should be spelled out for them at the time of the arrest. These rights are designed to ensure that everyone has the right to due process of the law, that states that a person's rights, liberty, and property cannot be violated without a proper trial. Please refer to table #1 for the list of rights that an accused person has the right to do. Note that if any of the five points listed in amendment number five are violated, the accused cannot be sentenced. These rights have to be described for the accused person in time of arrest.
The rights and the privileges of an accused person:
1. The accused is free to remain silent.
"I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that my answer may tend to incriminate me." This is hardly a glorious reply- but an essential protection of civil liberties, nonetheless. It is also written in the Constitution that: "No person... shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself." This part of the fifth amendment, along with due process, protects all citizens and non citizens of the United States from the torturer's rack. By stating the rights and the privileges of the individual who is arrested, the individual will know his or her rights, privileges, and obligations. "Prior to questioning, the person must be warned that he has a right to remain silent, that any statement he does make may be used as evidence against him, and that he has a right to the presence of an attorney, either retained or appointed...... If he indicates in any manner and at any stage of the process that he wishes to consult with an attorney before speaking, there can be no questioning." There cannot be federal or state convictions if defendants are denied the due process of law from the moment they are taken into custody or otherwise deprived of their freedom. These have come to be known as the "Miranda Rights".
[Comments by the original author]
In conclusion, the Miranda versus Arizona case made a significant difference in the police and court system in the United States. According to the commission on Civil Rights in 1961, "Some policeman still resort to physical force to obtain confessions." The Miranda versus the state of Arizona would detail the principles governing police interrogation, and protect the rights and the privileges of the people in the United States of America. The question that I believe that has to be asked is if accused and arrested people in the United States of America are enjoying too many rights and privileges. As shown in the Miranda case, a person may get away with no punishment, even if the accused confesses to the crime, if the police do not read that person his five rights and privileges that are supposed to ensure the due process of the law stated in Amendment number five in the American constitution. The practicality of this amendment will be a lively discussed issue in future Supreme Court cases, and the Miranda case decision will continue to be questioned.