Miranda Rights and Warning

Landmark Case Evolved from 1963 Ernesto Miranda Arrest

Arrest being made
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Ernesto Arturo Miranda was drifter and a career criminal who from age 12 was in and out of reform schools and state and federal prisons for various crimes including auto theft and burglary and sex offenses.

On March 13, 1963, at age 22, Miranda was picked up for questioning by the Phoenix police after the brother of a kidnap and rape victim saw Miranda in a truck with plates that matched the description that his sister had provided.

Miranda was placed in a lineup and after the police indicated to him that he had been positively identified by the victim, Miranda verbally confessed to the crime.

That's the Girl

He was then taken to the victim to see if his voice matched the voice of the rapist. With the victim present, the police asked Miranda if she was the victim, to which he answered, "That's the girl." After Miranda said the short sentence, the victim identified his voice as being the same as the rapist.

Next, Miranda was brought to a room where he recorded his confession in writing on forms with preprinted terms that read, "…this statement has been made voluntarily and of my own free will, with no threats, coercion or promises of immunity and with full knowledge of my legal rights, understanding any statement I make can and will be used against me." 

However, at no time had Miranda been told that he had the right to remain silent or that he had the right to have an attorney present.

His court assigned attorney, 73-year-old Alvin Moore, tried to get the signed confessions thrown out as evidence, but was unsuccessful. Miranda was found guilty of kidnapping and rape and was sentenced up to 30 years in prison.

Moore tried to get the conviction overturned by the Arizona Supreme Court, but failed.

U.S. Supreme Court

In 1965, Miranda's case, along with three other cases with similar issues, went before the U.S. Supreme Court. Working pro bono, attorneys John J. Flynn and John P. Frank of the Phoenix law firm Lewis & Roca, submitted the argument that Miranda's Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights had been violated.

Flynn's argument was that based on Miranda being emotionally disturbed at the time of his arrest and that with a limited education, he would not have knowledge of his Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate himself and that he was also not informed that he had the right to an attorney.

In 1966, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed, and in a landmark ruling in the case of Miranda v. Arizona that established that a suspect has the right to remain silent and that prosecutors may not use statements made by defendants while in police custody unless the police have advised them of their rights.

Miranda Warning

The case changed the way police handle those arrested for crimes. Before questioning any suspect who has been arrested, police now give the suspect his Miranda rights or read them the Miranda warning.

The following is the common Miranda warning used by most law enforcement agencies in the United States today:

"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 speak to an attorney and to have an attorney present during any questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you at government expense."

Conviction Overturned

When the Supreme Court made its landmark Miranda ruling in 1966, Ernesto Miranda's conviction was overturned. Prosecutors later retried the case, using evidence other than his confession, and he was convicted again and sentenced to 20 to 30 years. Miranda served 11 years of the sentence and was paroled in 1972.

When he was out of prison he began selling Miranda cards that contained his signed autograph. He was arrested on minor driving offenses a few times and on gun possession, which was a violation of his parole.

He returned to prison for another year and was again released in January 1976.

Ironic End for Miranda

On January 31, 1976, and just weeks after his release from prison, Ernesto Miranda, age 34, was stabbed and killed in a bar fight in Phoenix. A suspect was arrested in Miranda's stabbing, but exercised his right to remain silent.

He was released without being charged.

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Montaldo, Charles. "Miranda Rights and Warning." ThoughtCo, Feb. 10, 2017, thoughtco.com/miranda-rights-and-warning-972920. Montaldo, Charles. (2017, February 10). Miranda Rights and Warning. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/miranda-rights-and-warning-972920 Montaldo, Charles. "Miranda Rights and Warning." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/miranda-rights-and-warning-972920 (accessed November 23, 2017).