Thanks to countless movies and television shows, these words evoke one of the most well-known Supreme Court decisions of all time, Miranda v. Arizona (1966). This decision famously requires the police to give specific warnings to a suspect as a condition
to custodial interrogation: that the suspect has the right to remain silent; that statements by the suspect may be used in court; that the suspect may consult with a lawyer during interrogation; and that a lawyer will be provided if the suspect
cannot afford one.
A controversial decision, “Miranda [nevertheless] has become embedded in routine police practice to the point where the warnings have become part of our national culture.” 1 Even a popular movie like 21 Jump Street could drop a Miranda joke about Officer Jenko’s inability to recite Miranda warnings correctly, and count on the fact that most people would know the proper language for those warnings, more or less.2 “You have the right to remain an attorney.” Everybody knew Jenko dropped the ball with that line.
The nation’s cultural understanding of Miranda, however, has not always matched Miranda’s reality. For beyond the familiar Miranda warnings themselves, the Miranda rule includes other important features and limitations to address the constitutional concerns that motivated the Miranda decision. Miranda’s 50th anniversary in 2016 presents a valuable opportunity to reflect on the history, meaning, and impact of this decision
1 Brooks Holland. Insights on Law & Society Vol. 16 No. 1