The Miranda Rights: Providing a False Sense of Power to People Since 1966.

Dealing with a legal issue can be a challenging, stressful, and terrifying ordeal, and the Miranda Rights should provide some comfort to anyone facing a legal battle. However, the reality of the Miranda Rights often becomes blurred. Society’s obsession with law enforcement television shows and the endless archetypes, created by Hollywood, or releasing a person who was not read his or her Miranda Rights remains one of the common misconceptions of the Miranda Rights. Before thinking about how the Miranda Rights will affect you or someone you know with a legal issue, you must understand how the Miranda Rights came to be and what they actually mean.

Miranda Versus Arizona.

In 1963, Ernesto Miranda provided police officers with a confession to rape, robbery, and kidnapping. However, Miranda had a history of mental illness and did not understand the laws and his protections, granted by the U.S. Constitution. Miranda was convicted when his confession was introduced into evidence. Miranda appealed the ruling to the Arizona Supreme Court, who denied the appeal. Miranda appealed to the United States Supreme Court, who overturned his ruling and set in place the Miranda Rights in 1966.  Unfortunately for Miranda, the state of Arizona retried his case without using his confession, and he was convicted again on all of the charges.

Common Misconceptions of Miranda Rights

Many people know what the Miranda Rights are, yet only a few understand exactly how the process works. Specifically, the five most common misconceptions of Miranda Rights have been at the heart of thousands of criminal convictions today. For those who believe failure to Mirandize a person warrants an inability to be prosecuted, they should take a look at how the Miranda misconceptions can be something along the lines of an advertisement rather than a right.

1. Everything Before Mirandizing a Suspect Is Inadmissible.

This misconception is possibly the most common of all. Although you have the right to remain silent, police offficers are not obligated or required to read the Miranda Rights to anyone, unless he or she is taken into custody. Anything a persons says before being taken into custody can still be used against him.

2. Evidence Uncovered Following Questioning Without Being Read the Miranda Rights Is Inadmissible.

The Miranda Rights only protect a person from his or her own words. The rights include having an attorney present, but any evidence found after a person has given police a statement can still be used to build a case against that person. The Miranda Rights only protect unfair confessions, not evidence.

3. Failure to Mirandize Is a “Get Out Of Jail Free Card.”

Police officers can face penalties if they fail to Mirandize a person in custody, but no where in the Miranda Rights case did the justices identify this as a cause for dropping criminal charges. If the officers have enough evidence against a person, they could theoretically use that evidence solely to seek a conviction without Mirandizing a suspect.

4. Nothing I Say Voluntarily Can Be Used If I’m Not a Suspect.

In the original Miranda v. Arizona case, Ernesto Miranda went to the police station voluntarily for questioning. Today, police officers may bring someone in for questioning without ever telling that person he or she is a suspect or person-of-interest. As a result, many people who think they are cooperating with routine questioning may reveal admissible information; the person was not in police custody–not required to be Mirandized–while providing voluntary information.

5. I Don’t Have to Tell Police Officers Anything: Not My Name, Address, or Anything Else.

Wrong. Under current laws, police can require a person to answer basic questions about his or her identity without being Mirandized. A police officer can require a person to provide identification, a street address, name, social security number, and date of birth. Failure to provide this information to a police officer can actually result in additional prosecution of charges, such as Failure to Identify.

Under the 5th Amendment in the Bill of Rights, you have the right to remain silent. Under the 6th Amendment in the Bill of Rights, you have right to a fair, speedy trail and legal counsel. Although the Miranda Rights have represented a significant change in the actions of many police officers and prosecutors, they do not provide an all-encompassing safety blanket for potential defendants. The Miranda Rights are simply an advertisement for the rights granted in the U.S. Constitution, and anything you say before, during, and after being Mirandized can and will be used against you. Do you really know what rights you have?


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