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Saturday, April 1, 2017
A is for Arizona
Miranda v Arizona
[June 13, 1966, decision 5-4]
Ernesto Miranda was arrested and questioned by police regarding an accusation that he had kidnapped and raped a woman. The US Supreme Court heard this case, along with three other, similar cases, where criminal defendants were questioned by police. The defendants argued they could not invoke their right to remain silent [5th amendment] and their right to an attorney [6th amendment] if they were not even aware of those rights.
The court ruled that criminal suspects must be advised of their rights prior to custodial interrogation. Otherwise the defendant's responses are not admissible at trial.
Miranda's conviction, obtained by introducing his oral and written confessions as evidence at trial, was overturned. He was re-tried, without the confessions, and still convicted and sentenced to 20-30 years in prison.
I spent probably 3-4 entire weeks of my law school experience on this one case. MUST HAVE (1) CUSTODIAL (2) INTERROGATION. Custody – the person is under the control of the police and is not free to leave. Most traffic stops do NOT meet this standard. There are lots of nuances. I must have read at least 15 cases interpreting exactly what “in custody” means. Interrogation – police must be asking questions. Not just making statements, engaging in conversation, etc. Again, lots of nuances and I must have read at least 15 cases interpreting exactly what “interrogation” means.
Here is the basic required warning, altho each jurisdiction [state, county, city] can have its own variation, as long as it includes the basic requirements.
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?”
If the suspect indicates he will speak with officers, most of the time he is asked to sign a statement to that effect before he is questioned.
Berghuis v. Thompkins (2010) - The right to remain silent does not exist unless a suspect invokes it unambiguously. Silence during the interrogation does not invoke the right to remain silent.
Salinas v. Texas (2013) - A witness or suspect cannot invoke the privilege by simply standing mute; he or she must expressly invoke it. This means if a person wants to invoke his right to remain silent, he must specifically state he is invoking that right. If he does, then the state cannot comment at trial that he refused to answer the question.
Bottom line – If you are NOT in custody, but police ask you questions, police don't have to read you your rights. If police are NOT questioning you, but you are in custody, police don't have to read you your rights. So, just because they are NOT reading you your rights, doesn't necessarily mean you can talk and they can't use it against you, or that you can remain silent and they can't comment on it. Voluntary statements and voluntary silence are admissible at trial. If in doubt, keep your mouth shut, say you are invoking your right to remain silent, and ask for a lawyer.
Did you guess right?
Here's Monday's hint - B is for Bakke. Can you guess the case and what it's about? Leave a comment!