How many times have you heard “they didn’t read my Miranda Rights”? Often times, many of us don’t even know what they are, in what context do these rights kick in, or how “Miranda” came about. Well allow me to give you a little bit of a history lesson.
Approximately 53 years ago, a young lady alleged she was abducted and raped by an individual, and the key piece of information she could somewhat remember is the person’s license plate. That plate number led them to a gentlemen named, Ernesto Miranda. Although Miranda was not identified in the lineup, he was brought into police custody and interrogated. The police left that interrogation room with a confession that was later recanted by Miranda, who was unaware he did not have to say anything at all to the police. i.e the right to remain silent.
Eventually the case went up to the United States Supreme Court where they found, in relevant part, that:
“The person in custody must, prior to interrogation, be clearly informed that he has the right to remain silent, and that anything he says will be used against him in court; he must be clearly informed that he has the right to consult with a lawyer and to have the lawyer with him during interrogation, and that, if he is indigent, a lawyer will be appointed to represent him,”
As such, our “Miranda Rights” were born.
Now what if the Police Fail to Advise You of Your Miranda Rights?
When police officers question a suspect in custody without first giving the Miranda warning, any statement or confession made is presumed to be involuntary, and cannot be used against the suspect in any criminal case. Any evidence discovered as a result of that statement or confession will likely also be thrown out of the case.
Understand a key point here, the operative word in “Custody”. In order for your Miranda rights to kick in there must be a Custodial Interrogation, meaning you must be in Custody and being Interrogated. Simply being arrest doesn’t invoke those rights.
Here is an example of Miranda rights violation.
For example, suppose Dan is arrested and, without being read his Miranda rights, is questioned by police officers about a bank robbery. Unaware that he has the right to remain silent, Dan confesses to committing the robbery and tells the police that the money is buried in his backyard. Acting on this information, the police dig up the money. When Dan’s attorney challenges the confession in court, the judge will likely find it unlawful. This means that, not only will the confession be thrown out of the case against Dan, but so will the money itself, because it was discovered solely as a result of the unlawful confession.
Now as for Ernesto Miranda, even though his original conviction was set aside by the Supreme Court ruling, he was retried and convicted, and was in jail until 1972–then in and out of jail several more times until 1976. After being released in 1976, he was fatally stabbed during a bar fight. His suspected killer was read his Miranda rights and didn’t answer questions from police. There was never a conviction in Miranda’s death.