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Miranda Warning

The Miranda Warning is given by police officers of the United States to suspects whom they have arrested and intend to question. The Miranda Rights were mandated by the 1966 United States Supreme Court decision in the case of Miranda v. Arizona. The Miranda Warning is a means of protecting a criminal suspect's Fifth Amendment right not to be subjected to coerced self-incrimination. This principle of law, though under different names, has been adopted in some other jurisdictions that derive their legal systems from English common law.

Table of contents
1 Miranda v. Arizona
2 Miranda Rights
3 Confusion Regarding the Miranda Warning

Miranda v. Arizona

In 1963, Ernesto Miranda was arrested for robbery, kidnapping, and rape. He was interrogated by police and confessed. At trial, prosecutors offered only his confession as evidence and he was convicted. The Supreme Court ruled that Miranda was intimidated by the interrogation and that he understood his right neither not to incriminate himself nor his right to have counsel. On this basis, they overturned his conviction. Miranda was retried, and this time the prosecutors did not use the confession but rather made use of witnesses and other evidence. Miranda was convicted, and served 11 years.

Miranda Rights

The Supreme Court did not specify the exact wording to be used when reading a suspect's rights. However, they did set down a set of guidelines which must be followed. The ruling states:

"...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 a result, the American English vocabulary has acquired a new verb, "\'to mirandize'" meaning to read to a suspect, held in custody, his or her Miranda rights.

Confusion Regarding the Miranda Warning

Due to the prevalence of American TV police dramas in which the police characters are constantly reading a suspect their rights, it has become an expected element of arrest procedure. However, police are only required to warn an individual whom they intend to question. Arrests can occur without questioning and without the Miranda Warning. Furthermore, if public safety warrants such action, the police may ask questions prior to a reading of the Miranda Warning.

Also, people outside the United States who have seen many American television programs sometimes expect to hear the Miranda warning when they are arrested, although US court rulings have no force outside the United States.

See also: criminal justice