The landmark Supreme Court case of Miranda v. Arizona, decided in 1966, stands as a pivotal moment in the history of American criminal justice. This case not only reshaped the way law enforcement interacts with suspects but also solidified the rights of individuals when facing police interrogation. In this article, we will delve into the case’s background, the constitutional issue it addressed, the decision and its impact, as well as the key figures involved.
In Miranda v. Arizona, the Supreme Court examined the constitutionality of police interrogation practices that often led to self-incrimination by suspects. The case revolved around Ernesto Miranda, a 23-year-old man who was arrested in Phoenix, Arizona, in 1963 and subsequently convicted of rape and kidnapping based on a confession obtained during police interrogation. The core question before the Court was whether Miranda’s confession should have been admissible as evidence given the circumstances of his interrogation.
The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, ruled in favor of Ernesto Miranda. The Court’s opinion, authored by Chief Justice Earl Warren, held that Miranda’s confession was inadmissible as evidence because he had not been informed of his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and his Sixth Amendment right to an attorney. The decision established the now-famous “Miranda rights” that law enforcement officers must read to suspects in custody before conducting interrogations. These rights include the right to remain silent, the right to an attorney, and the warning that anything said can and will be used against the suspect in court.
The defendant in Miranda v. Arizona was Ernesto Miranda, a man accused of rape and kidnapping in Phoenix, Arizona.
The primary constitutional issue in Miranda v. Arizona was whether Miranda’s confession, obtained during a police interrogation without informing him of his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and his Sixth Amendment right to an attorney, violated his constitutional rights.
Ernesto Miranda was arrested in 1963 based on circumstantial evidence linking him to a rape and kidnapping case. During a lengthy interrogation by the police, Miranda confessed to the crimes. However, he was not informed of his right to remain silent or his right to have an attorney present during questioning. Miranda’s confession was used as evidence against him, and he was subsequently convicted.
The core issue in Miranda v. Arizona was whether the confession obtained from Miranda during police interrogation, where he had not been informed of his rights, violated the Fifth and Sixth Amendments of the United States Constitution.
In the 5-4 decision, Justice John M. Harlan wrote a dissenting opinion, expressing his belief that the Court had overstepped its bounds by imposing a uniform set of procedures on all police interrogations. He argued that the decision infringed on the power of individual states to determine their own criminal procedures. Justice Harlan believed that the Constitution did not require such a strict procedural rule for confessions to be admissible.