The Miranda vs. Arizona case involved a failure by law enforcement officials to inform the plaintiff (Ernesto Miranda) about his Fifth Amendment rights before interrogation him and using a signed confession (they got from this process) to prosecute him. The Supreme Court ruled that police officers had to let the suspects know about their Fifth Amendment rights before interrogating them.
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In 1963, law enforcement officials arrested Ernesto Miranda for kidnapping and raping a girl (Hook, 2012). Since they only had circumstantial evidence when making the arrest, they could not (successfully) prosecute the suspect without getting evidence that is more reliable. Without telling him about his Fifth Amendment rights, the officers interrogated Miranda and got a signed confession from him (admitting that he committed the crime). The signed document contained a clause that said,
“I do hereby swear that I make this statement 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 may be used against me” (Hook, 2012, p. 13).
Miranda consented to the above statement without understanding that he had a right to counsel. He did not know that he also had a right to remain silent, or that the police could use the statements he made in the interrogation room against him. Based on the failure to tell him about his Fifth Amendment rights, Miranda’s court-appointed lawyer objected to using the signed confession as evidence against his client. However, the Court allowed the prosecutors to table this evidence and used it to sentence the suspect to 30 years imprisonment (for both counts – rape and kidnapping) (Hook, 2012). The lawyer appealed this ruling at the Arizona Supreme Court by arguing that his client did not voluntarily give the evidence that the court relied on to prosecute him.
Should law enforcement officers tell suspects of their Fifth Amendment rights before interrogating them and using the evidence they get from this process in a court of law?
Miranda won the case in a 5-4 majority view (Hook, 2012). The Supreme Court ruled that law enforcement officers had to let the suspects know of their Fifth Amendment rights before interrogation. The failure to do so would make any confessions they get from the interrogation to be inadmissible.
Justices Tom Clark, John Harlan, and Byron White differed with the majority view. They said the Fifth Amendment right should not prevent people from incriminating themselves. To support their arguments, they said the police should only follow “due process” as the main criterion for conducting interrogations. In line with this argument, they argued that using the Fifth Amendment to stop an interrogation was unnecessarily broadening the law (Hook, 2012).
The Miranda vs. Arizona case changed how the American justice system works. Particularly, it changed how the police conducted interrogations. The ruling required all law enforcement officers to tell suspects of their right to remain silent and have an attorney present during interrogations. This case attempted to protect the rights of suspects.
It gave them the liberty to stop any interrogation process by remaining silent, or refusing to answer questions without a counsel’s presence. If a suspect decides to do so, police officers do not have a right to argue for an exception to the notification rule.
The Saint Leo’s Core Value of Integrity demonstrates these democratic ideals of interrogation by notifying all members of the university about the rules that govern members’ conduct in the institution. Indeed, using the integrity clause, the university assumes that before taking any disciplinary actions on a member of the community (for violations), the subject should have understood their rights. This way, the university demonstrates integrity in how it conducts its operations.
Hook, S. (2012). Miranda V. Arizona: An Individual’s Rights When Under Arrest EBook. New York, NY: ABDO.