What Is the Miranda Warning? - History & Rights

Instructor: Jessica Schubert

Jessica is a practicing attorney and has taught law and has a J.D. and LL.M.

After you finish this lesson, you will understand what constitutes the Miranda warning. You will further review the history of the Miranda warning and review the rights included in the warning.

You Have the Right to Remain Silent...

Have you ever watched the television show Law and Order? How about any other type of police procedural? On these shows, there is always a series of events which lead up to the arrest of a suspect. When this happens, the stars of the show -- usually the police -- take the suspect into custody and read a series of rights. They typically start out with the line, 'You have the right to remain silent.' These rights are the Miranda rights, also known as the Miranda warnings.

History

Miranda warnings were established due to a U.S. Supreme Court case decision. The case, entitled Miranda v. Arizona, involved a man who was arrested for armed robbery at a bank. The man signed a written confession to the robbery, in addition to the kidnap and rape of a woman a week before the robbery. He was found guilty of the armed robbery. However, there was an appeal of the case, where the man asked the court to reconsider its determination.

The reason for the man's appeal was based upon an argument that he did not know he had the right against self-incrimination; in other words, he did not understand that he had the right to silence. The Supreme Court held that the Miranda rights must be read to a person in custody prior to police questioning. The man ultimately was found guilty and went to jail.

Since the Miranda v. Arizona case, whenever the police take a person into custody, which is detainment by the police, for questioning, the police must read the Miranda rights. A failure to read these rights can result in all evidence and statements made by the suspect getting excluded from a future case. These are serious consequences because questioning is frequently when the police start to gather evidence against the person to form the basis of a legal case against him or her. Without such evidence, an entire case can be lost.

Miranda Rights

The Miranda rights consist of a series of statements which are read by the police to a person who has been taken into custody. The Miranda rights state:

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