If you are a big fan of TV police dramas, you no doubt are familiar with the terminology “Miranda rights”.  You might have first heard Sergeant Joe Friday from the old “Dragnet” series mirandize a perpetrator, or, more recently you watched any of the detectives in the many “Law and Order” shows give the Miranda warning to the bad guy by uttering the following words:Law and Order

“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?”

These days the newspapers and social media are chock-full of stories about police incidents – there are often issues of brutality, whether real or imagined.  But, do consider the plight of the poor police officer who takes his life in his hands every day when he climbs into his patrol car, walks his regular beat, or, sometimes just by wearing the uniform and badge and sitting at the front desk at the wrong time.

Because of the recent matters that made the headlines for many months, police officers are starting to use cameras on their person or on their police vehicles to record incidents throughout their shift, should the event turn ugly and be needed for evidence down the road.

Thus, the world of the police officer is indeed changing, but one item in their routine that has remained static, is when perpetrators are cornered, caught and cuffed, police personnel will mirandize them, also known as issuing them a Miranda warning.  This is very important because if the prisoner decides to “tell all” and “spills his guts”, and no warning has been given, or the opportunity to obtain counsel granted or waived, the confession will not hold up in court.  The further dire consequences if a suspect does not receive a Miranda warning is that certain evidence also is inadmissible in court.  Thus, through the years, there have been slip-ups wherein a detainee has not been properly mirandized and is essentially issued a “get out of jail free” card, and, while it is fodder for great novels and stimulating movies, unfortunately the perp walks based on a technicality.

The Miranda warning

The Miranda doctrine, often simply referred to as “Miranda rights,” is a set of rights that are applicable to police detainees under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Miranda rights were first established in the Supreme Court case of Miranda v. Arizona. Miranda rights are basic police procedure for prisoner detention.Miranda warning

When a citizen is in custody, police must grant a citizen his Miranda rights, i.e. the right to remain silent and to have access to an attorney, court-appointed if need be.  The Supreme Court has issued revisions on the Miranda doctrine to qualify instances under which the reading or waiver of rights is not necessary, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.   If you wish to learn more about the Miranda Warning or if you feel that your Miranda Rights were violated you should contact a top criminal defense attorney in NJ; New Jersey criminal defense lawyers are experts in the law and can discuss your rights with you as well as defend you in court if the need arises.

Four separate cases – four sets of police errors

The 1966 Supreme Court case Miranda v. Arizona established the term Miranda rights under the “right against self-incrimination,” and was so named after a case wherein Mr. Ernesto Miranda was one of four appellants, in unrelated cases, who received a conviction because they had given statements informally while in police custody.  All four appellants did not have knowledge of their legal right to remain silent and avoid self-incrimination, and, of the four separate cases involving the same Fifth Amendment question, it was the Miranda case that became the defining case because Mr. Miranda gave a signed confession without the benefit of a waiver or knowledge of his Fifth Amendment rights, thus the confession was considered inadmissible in court.

The case of Miranda v. Arizona

According to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, Miranda v. Arizona, the defining case for four separate cases that all involved the same Fifth Amendment question, was instrumental in creating the Miranda doctrine after the U.S. Supreme Court decided in favor of Miranda when it determined that the investigating officers violated his Fifth Amendment rights during an interrogation in which the officers used misleading and inaccurate statements to elicit a confession.  Though eventually, authorities accused and convicted Ernesto Miranda of sexual assault, the defendant did not definitively claim that Miranda was her attacker.  To elicit a confession by Miranda, however, during a closed interrogation, the investigating officers falsely told Miranda that the defendant did identify him.  Miranda broke down and signed a confession.

The Miranda ruling

The Miranda ruling led to a series of pronouncements and procedures for police personnel including the inadmissibility at trial of statements taken in violation of the Fifth Amendment, whereby, a “privilege against self-incrimination” existed through the establishment of a right to remain silent, the right to an attorney for criminal matters and the right for the indigent to have an attorney appointed.  If police personnel issued the Miranda rights correctly, the accused was similarly entitled to the right to answer some questions without waiving all Fifth Amendment rights.  Thus, it was decided that those in custody also needed to be made aware of these rights.

Today, police immediately issue the Miranda rights to every detainee so there are no slip-ups and every wrongdoer still has his day in court, but sans any technicalities.