The Clark Law Office Articles What are Miranda Rights? An In-Depth Look

What are Miranda Rights? An In-Depth Look

Jun. 19, 2013 2:45p

Perhaps you have heard about the Miranda Rights in the news, on television, or through other people and were never quite sure what they were talking about. These rights are not found listed in the Constitution but have been established by the Supreme Court through their interpretation of this all-important document upon which the laws in America have been founded. They are loosely based on fifth amendment rights. In fact, it was not until 1965 that Miranda Rights were apart of American law. Read on to learn the story behind these rights and how they can help or harm you.

History of the Miranda Rights

The Miranda Rights are named after a man named Ernesto Miranda who was arrested back in March of 1963 after some circumstantial evidence has been uncovered that linked him to the horrible crimes of kidnap and rape that had been committed against a teenage girl just ten days prior. After being interrogated by officers for about two hours and without being informed of his right to have the counsel of an attorney, or to remain silent, Miranda confessed to the crimes through a signed statement. The confession was later used by prosecutors during his trial. The lawyer that had been court-appointed to represent him claimed that confession was not a fully voluntary one, requesting that it be omitted as evidence. He was overruled and Miranda received a maximum sentence of 30 years for each charge against him. The attorney responded by appealing to the state's Supreme Court, but the ruling of the original court was upheld for due to Miranda's failure to request an attorney. However, it was from this trial that the Miranda Rights emerged.

How Miranda Rights are Used

Now police have the duty of informing suspects of their Miranda Rights. They are not required to do it every time they ask someone a question, just when they are questioning a crime suspect whose interrogation might be used in a court of law. The Miranda Rights cover information obtained whether it leads to proving a person guilty or innocent. They must tell the person that they can remain silent and that they can request the presence of an attorney. The person must acknowledge that they understand the rights granted them and they can even waive the rights voluntarily if they choose. In the event that the police fail to inform a person of their Miranda Rights, the information that they obtain might not be usable in court.

Silence According to Miranda Rights Is Not a Free Pass

Some mistakenly assume that they can get a free pass by remaining silent. However, there have been incidents when using silence and the failure of an officer to inform a person of their rights actually did the person more harm than good. Remember that even evidence which might prove a person's innocence only become admissible after the Miranda Rights have been read. Also, the Supreme Court has decided that a person's silence before their rights are given them can be used as evidence of their guilt.

If you would like additional information about criminal law in the state of Michigan, click here

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