Our Miranda Rights - Everything about Miranda Rights by Dr.Bethel Erastus-Obilo



Anyone familiar with certain TV shows about crime and police interrogation or who has been arrested by the police in the US would be aware of the warning known popularly as the Miranda warning. Miranda warning has become an inherent part of the police questioning procedure since it was introduced by the US Supreme Court in 1966. In its most basic format, its objective is to ensure that any improperly obtained evidence from a suspect cannot be used in a subsequent criminal trial against that suspect and to warn the suspect against giving up his constitutional rights

What it means

This means that upon arrest and holding in police custody, the police must advise the suspect certain of his constitutional rights (and warn him of the dangers of giving them up) before they can begin to question him. If they fail to do so, any evidence they obtain during the interrogation cannot be used at trial against that suspect.

The Miranda warning, as used in law enforcement and criminal law, refers to a very important concept of respect for civil liberties and the adducing of evidence when suspects are held in custody and being dealt with by the police. Its requirements are so well known that the Supreme Court remarked that "Miranda has become embedded in routine police practice to the point where the warnings have become part of our national culture". 2

The Rationale

The doctrine of Miranda was established by the US Supreme Court case of Miranda v. Arizona. 3 The ruling identified certain constitutional rights which every citizen has upon being subjected to police questioning when in custody. These rights ensure that a criminal suspect in police custody 4 must be informed of his basic constitutional rights before being interrogated. 5

The court reasoned, in its ruling that: “the inherently coercive setting of custodial questioning 6 required greater protection for the defendant than the voluntariness 7 standard provided”.

2 Dickerson v. U.S., 530, U.S., 428, (2000).

3 384 U.S 436 (1966)

4 Miranda rights are applicable only to those who have been arrested and are in police custody. The court determined that to be in custody, one must either had been taken into physical custody by the police or otherwise, deprived of his freedom in any significant way. 384. U.S at 444.

5 Black’s Law Dictionary (1999), 7th Edition, West Group. St. Paul, Minn.

6 Interrogation refers to lawful attempts by the police to obtain information from a suspect by asking him questions pertaining to the crime alleged to have been committed.

7 The test of voluntariness excluded confessions obtained from suspects after unnecessary delay in arraignment. This was dealt with by previous Supreme Court cases in the matter and by congressional action: McNabb v. United States, 318 U.S 332 (1943), Mallory v. United States, 354 U.S. 449 (1957), Federal Criminal Procedure 5 (a)

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Last updated on March 3, 2019

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