Guest Author - Vance R. Rowe
You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can, and will, be used against you in court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford one, one will be appointed to you. Do you understand these rights that I read to you?”
Everyone of us has heard this at least once in our lives. Whether it be as we were being arrested or watching a television police drama. This is the Miranda warning or the Miranda rights. This warning was developed out of a court case in 1966, but actually began in 1963. Miranda vs. Arizona was a case where an 18 year old woman had reported to police that she was kidnapped and raped out in the desert. The police were wary of her claims and eventually gave her a lie detector test in which the results were found to be inconclusive. The police then checked out her story, and eventually they found a man named Ernesto Miranda. Miranda also had a criminal record for having been arrested for being a “peeping tom”.
The alleged victim failed to identify Miranda in a line up, but he was still brought into custody and questioned. Allegedly, the officers left the interrogation room with a confession from Miranda. A confession, he later recanted, and was unaware that he did not have to answer any of their questions.
The confession was short and some things differed from what the victim had told police about the crime. The victim was also mentally ill, so the police took that into consideration as well.
The defense attorney for Ernesto Miranda did not call any witnesses at the forthcoming trial and this did not bode well for Miranda, as he was convicted for the crime.
While Miranda was serving his time in the Arizona state prison, the American Civil Liberties Union handled Miranda’s appeal. They said that Miranda’s confession was false and that he was coerced in giving it to police. The supreme court overturned the conviction but in 1966, Miranda was tried again and once again was convicted of the crime, even though the evidence was lacking against him.
Miranda served a six year sentence and was released from prison in 1972. However, in 1976, Ernesto Miranda was stabbed to death in the men’s room of a bar during a poker game. The one good thing to come out of this mess is that now every person must now be told their rights when being arrested.