The case addressed one fundamental question: What is the role of the police in protecting the rights of the accused, as guaranteed by the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the Constitution?
The Fifth Amendment states that no person "shall be compelled, in any criminal case, to be a witness against himself. . . ." The Sixth Amendment states that, "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right . . . to have the assistance of counsel for his defense." The US Supreme Court had made previous attempts to deal with these issues. In Brown v. Mississippi, 44 the Court had ruled that the Fifth Amendment protected individuals from being forced to confess. In Gideon v. Wainwright, 45 the Court held that persons accused of felonies have a fundamental right to an attorney, even if they cannot afford one. In 1964, after Miranda's arrest, the Court ruled, in Escobedo v. Illinois, 46 that when an accused person is denied the right to consult with his attorney, his Sixth Amendment right to counsel is violated.
The question is whether the police have an obligation to ensure that the accused person is aware of these rights? If there is the obligation, at what point in the criminal justice process must the defendant learn of these rights?
In 1965, the US Supreme Court agreed to hear Miranda's case. At the same time, the Court agreed to hear three similar cases, Vignera v. New York, Westover v. United States, and California v. Stewart. The Court combined the four cases. Since Miranda was listed first among the four cases considered by the Court, the decision came to be known by that name. Miranda v. Arizona was decided in 1966.
44 Brown v. Mississippi - 297 U.S. 278 (1936)
45 Gideon v. Wainwright - 372 U.S. 335 (1963)
46 Escobedo v. Illinois 378 U.S 478 (1964)