In 1966, the United States Supreme Court had to decide one of the challenging cases, Miranda v. Arizona, and give perhaps what many termed a landmark ruling. The Court had to listen to statements form the inculpatory and exculpatory sides and then make a ruling. However, there was a precondition for this to happen.
The defendant already in the police custody, was to appear before trial if the prosecutor was able to substantiate with evidence, the fact that the defendant was aware of his or her rights according to Fifth and Sixth Amendment. In addition, the prosecutor had to ensure protection of the defendant’s self-incrimination rights especially during the time of questioning by the police.
This means that before questioning, the police had to ensure that the defendant understands his or her rights and must show the willingness to waiver. Undoubtedly, this particular case had a significant effect especially to the law enforcing agencies in United States. The case later led to the development of Miranda rights, which became an element in routine police procedures aimed at protecting the rights of suspected persons.
Other similar cases determined alongside the Miranda v. Arizona include California v, Stewart, Westover v. United States and Vignera v. New York. The paper will examine the background of the case in addition to the legal point at issue and the decision of the court. Additionally, the paper will establish the reasoning of the Supreme Court and finally, how the decision affected police procedures (Soltero, 2006, pp. 61-74).
The background of Miranda v. Arizona dates back to 1963 when police officers in Phoenix, Arizona arrested a Mexican immigrant, Ernesto Miranda, for rape and kidnapping crimes. The police officers put Miranda into custody and interrogated him for approximately tow hours. However, the police officers questioning Miranda erred in one thin. They did not inform Miranda his rights against self-incrimination as enshrined in the Fifth Amendment of the American Constitution.
Moreover, the police officers to inform Miranda his right to acquire the services of an attorney prior to questioning as enshrined in the Sixth Amendment. Nevertheless, following the two-hour interrogation, Miranda admitted in writing that he had actually committed the two crimes and later on, he was charged. In his written statement, Ernesto Miranda accredited the fact that he was sentient of his right against self-incrimination.
Thus, during his trial, the prosecution regime relied on the written statement to convict Miranda. The court found Miranda guilty and sentenced him to 20 and 30 years in prison for rape and kidnapping crimes respectively. Nonetheless, this did not stop here. After restudying the case again, Miranda’s lawyer decided to make a petition to the Arizona Supreme Court.
In his argument, Miranda’s lawyer noted that the written statement serving as a confession should not act as evidence since the police officers had not informed Miranda his rights, and the absence of an attorney during interrogation makes the sentence null and void.
Interestingly, the police officers who interrogated Miranda disclosed that they did not inform Miranda about the two issues, which are part of his rights. On their defense, the police officers argued that Miranda was not new to these rights, as the court had convicted him in the past.
Thus, they assumed that Miranda was well aware of his rights. The Arizona Supreme Court declined the appeal on grounds that Miranda was not alien to police procedures, did not request for an attorney and that he confessed willingly. The Supreme Court also retorted that the work of the police would be in jeopardy if it overturned the early conviction. This decision elicited a hot debate in the American criminal jurisprudence (Cornell Law School, 2010, p.1).
In 1965, the Supreme Court of United States decided to hear the Miranda v. Arizona case alongside other three cases. After several hearings, the case came into a conclusion with a 5—4 vote in favor of Miranda’s conviction.
On delivering the US Supreme Court decision, Chief Justice Warren cited many things among them mistakes committed by police officers in the case. Warren, a former prosecutor, dismissed the custodial nature of police interrogations by citing a flurry of police training manuals, and blamed police officers for neglecting some of their fundamental duties.
In particular, Warren cited the Fifth Amendment self-incrimination clause as the reason why the written confession is unacceptable. Furthermore, Justice Warren read out the Sixth Amendment clause, which is a fundamental right to a suspect to choose an attorney prior the interrogation. Writing for the majority judges, Justice Warren stated that the police officers should furnish all suspects in custody and awaiting interrogation with information on their rights.
The same police officers should advice the suspects to remain silent otherwise, what they say will serve as evidence in the court of law against them. Justice Warren further added that the police officers should inform the defendant his rights to acquire the services of an attorney and make sure that the attorney is present during the time of interrogation. Since this never took place, the Supreme Court overturned Miranda’s conviction.
He further declared that the lumber was upon the State to effectual safeguarding of the police procedures in order to ensure protection against self-incrimination. He attributed the fact that if police officers go on with the practice, it means that suspects have no choice other than to compel themselves to incrimination.
Thus, it is paramount to practice interrogation of suspects as laid out in Fifth Amendment and Sixth Amendment clauses to secure privilege against self-incrimination. For the US Supreme Court to reach this conclusion, it based its findings on fundamental fairness. Justice Warren wrote that the police officers did not warrant Miranda information regarding his right to consult with a lawyer and that there was no layer present during the interrogation.
Thus, according to Justice Warren, the police officers compelled Miranda to incriminate himself against the provisions of the American Constitution. He termed the written statement “inadmissible” before any court and that although he signed the statement claiming to understand his rights; that does not amount to the intelligent waiver necessary to renounce constitutional rights (Gribben, 2011, pp.7-8).
The decision to overturn Miranda’s conviction had a lot of impact especially to the police officers. For instance, the creation of Miranda laws increased burden to police officers who now had new responsibilities of informing suspects their rights before questioning them. Prior to any questioning, police officers had to caution suspects that whatever they said would appear against him in a court of law. They also had to make sure that before any interrogation takes place, an attorney presenting the suspect s present.
In case, the suspect does not afford an attorney, the State has to appoint one for the suspect to but on condition that the suspect so desires. Some conservatives came out to denounce the US Supreme Court decision and expressed that it was wrong to inform suspected criminals of their rights. They also accused the court of undermining the police, and that the decision served to increase crime (Miranda Slain; Main Figure in Landmark Suspects’ Rights Case, 1976, p.1).
Cornell Law School. (2010). Warren, C.J. Opinion of the Court: Supreme Court of the United States. 384 U.S. 436. Miranda v. Arizona. Legal Information Institute.
Gribben, M. (2011). Miranda vs. Arizona: The Crime that changed American Justice. Retrieved April 12, 2011, from
Miranda Slain; Main Figure in Landmark Suspects’ Rights Case. (February 1, 1976). The New York Times. Retrieved April 12, 2011, from
Soltero, R. (2006). Miranda v. Arizona (1966) and the rights of the criminally accused. Latinos and American Law: Landmark Supreme Court Cases. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.