Miranda Rights – How the US Legal System Was Revolutionized

police officerIn March, 1963, Ernesto Miranda was arrested by the police for a bank robbery in Phoenix, Arizona. After 2 hours of harsh interrogation in which he was not offered the services of a lawyer, police were able to extract a confession not only of robbery but of rape as well committed by Miranda 11 days earlier.

Miranda was trialed and sentenced to 20 years in prison. His lawyer appealed to the US Supreme Court, which on June 13, 1966 annulled the sentence of the Arizona court and ordered a new trial in which Miranda’s confession would not be accounted as evidence.

This case established what is known today as Miranda Rights according to which a suspects enjoy the basic right not to incriminate themselves based on the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution.

What do Miranda Rights Include?

Suspects must be informed about their basic rights prior to any interrogation by the police. The suspect is entitled to remain silent. He or she must be aware that anything they might say can be used against them in court. Suspects are entitled to be represented by a lawyer, and they will be provided with a lawyer free of charge if they cannot afford legal counseling.

In 2000, the US Supreme Court established Miranda Rights as a constitutional rule which applies to Federal Courts as well.

And what happened to Ernesto Miranda in the end?

Ernesto Miranda was convicted in his second trial as well. He spent 11 years in prison as then released. In 1976 he was stubbed to death in a brawl. The man who stubbed him used his Miranda rights and kept silent. He was released shortly afterwards. It’s strange how history plays its irony.

To sum up, we can definitely say that the Miranda story illustrates how the most unlikely case involving the most unlikely person revolutionized US legal system.