Miranda warning is the famous ‘you have the right to remain silent’ that we all are familiar with through the famous Hollywood movies, however, not many are aware that these rights are a result of a landmark Supreme Court judgment in which the hon’ble court consolidated four cases: Miranda v. Arizona, Westover v. United States, Vignera v. New York, and California v. Stewart and derived the Miranda warning. Miranda warning is often referred to as Miranda and it is a set of rights that are read out loud to the criminal suspect in police custody before they are interrogated. The keywords here being ‘before they are interrogated’, these rights are not mandatory in nature and are often read when a suspect in police custody is about to be interrogated for a crime. These rights are read to the suspect in order to ensure that there is no violation of the Fifth Amendment (protection against self-incrimination) and Sixth Amendment (right to an attorney) of the U.S. Constitution and that the suspect is fully conscious of the repercussions of his statements made during the interrogation. In toto, Miranda warning is a tool through which the rights of individuals who are presumed to be guilty are safeguarded by ensuring that they are aware of their constitutional right to remain silent as anything they speak can be used against them in the court of law in the most culpatory context.
~What are Miranda Rights~
“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?”
~Fifth Amendment of the United States of America~
“No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”
~Sixth Amendment of the United States of America~
“In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.”
~Facts of the Miranda v. Arizona Case~
Miranda was arrested from his house on the suspicion of committing kidnapping and rape, and he was taken in custody when the complainant had identified him. He was interrogated for approximately two hours where he provided the officers with a signed confession stating that he had committed the said crimes and on the basis of his confession, he was found guilty. He filed an appeal in the SC with the primary issue being that ‘statements that were obtained from him were in violation of the Fifth Amendment that protects individuals from incriminating themselves’.
In 1966, the SC held that “The atmosphere and environment of incommunicado interrogation as it exists today is inherently intimidating, and works to undermine the privilege against self-incrimination…” Therefore, it is of utmost importance that the suspects are made aware of their constitutional rights. The court stated that in the cases, Miranda v. Arizona, Westover v. United States, Vignera v. New York, and California v. Stewart, “the statements were obtained under circumstances that did not meet constitutional standards for protection of the privilege against self-incrimination.”
~Chief Takeaways from this Article~
- There is no definite structure of the Miranda rights and the content could vary from state to state, but the key elements include the right to remain silent, anything you say can or will be used against you in the court of law, having the right to have an attorney, if legal aid cannot be afforded then it is provided by the state, and if you decide on your own to speak without an attorney then you have the right to stop at any time.
- Miranda rights are not mandatory to be read before each arrest and it is only when the suspects are about to be interrogated that these rights have to be read in order to ensure that they are aware of their constitutional rights.
- Even when the Miranda rights are not read to the suspect, no questions have been being asked and he confesses to the crime then that can be taken as evidence and be used against him in the court.
~Miranda Warning Equivalents~
- India – The Constitution of India provides Article 22 that states that “No person shall be detained in custody without being informed, as soon as may be, of the grounds for such arrest nor shall he be denied the right to consult and to be defended by, a legal practitioner of his choice. Every person who is arrested and detained in custody shall be produced before the nearest magistrate within a period of twenty-four hours of such arrest excluding the time necessary for such journey from the place of arrest to the court of the magistrate and no person shall be detained in custody beyond the said period without the authority of the magistrate.”
- European Union – New developments have been made in the EU with respect to the rights of suspects and accused persons. In 2009, it adopted six directives (A “directive” is a legislative act that sets out a goal that all EU countries must achieve. However, it is up to the individual countries to devise their own laws on how to reach these goals.) including the right to have a lawyer, right to be presumed innocent until proven otherwise, the right to legal aid, etc. These directives require the officers to inform the criminal suspects of their rights and let them know that anything they say can be used against them.
Rights such as ‘Miranda’ are necessary in order to ensure a fair trial and that no innocent man is put behind the bars. In an already overwhelming environment, it is the duty of the state to conduct a trial in which the accused has been interrogated in a legal manner and had been made aware of all his rights. That ensures a proper rule of law.