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Supreme Court Case Analysis


Julia Jewett, Brandi Ambrose, Jasmine Acevedo, Daniel Munoz
CJA/315
05/17/2015
Matthew Taylor

Supreme Court Case Analysis

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In 1966, the U.S. Supreme Court decided the historic case of Miranda v. Arizona,
declaring that whenever a person is taken into police custody, before being questioned he or she
must be told of the Fifth Amendment right not to make any self-incriminating statements. As a
result of Miranda, anyone in police custody must be told four things before being questioned: 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 appointed for
you (FindLaw, 2014). It is required that this warning be meaningful, therefore most
departments also require that the suspect be asked if they understand their rights. The suspect
must give a clear answer to this question or else any information they do provide will not be
admissible.
Ernesto Miranda
The case of Miranda v. Arizona took place on February 28, 1966, and a decision was made
on June 13, 1966. This case marked a huge stride by making law enforcement more aware that
they had to inform an arrested suspect of their rights when questioning is going to be conducted.
In 1963, Ernesto Miranda was arrested and charged with rape, kidnapping, and robbery. Mr.
Miranda was not informed of all of his rights prior to police interrogation. While Mr. Miranda
was in the two hour interrogation he allegedly confessed to committing the crimes. During his
alleged confession he had no counsel present and when this case went to trial the prosecutions
case relied solely on the confession. Mr. Miranda was convicted of the rape and kidnapping and
sentenced to 20 to 30 years in prison. In his appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court, Mr. Miranda
claimed that police had unconstitutionally obtained the confession from him. The court disagreed
and upheld the conviction which led to U.S. Supreme Court case in 1966.
In the Supreme Court case, a 5-4 decision was made that the prosecution could not
introduce Mr. Mirandas confession as evidence in the criminal trial because police failed to inform

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him of his right to an attorney and rights against self-incrimination. The facts of this case prove
that Mr. Miranda was not properly informed about his rights and was questioned so long that he
was compelled to confess without counsel under duress.
John Flynn, counsel for Ernesto Miranda, stated that his client had signed a confession, for
kidnapping, robbery and rape during which Mr. Miranda was not informed of his constitutional
rights to remain silent, to have a lawyer present while being questioned, and to have the court
appoint an attorney if he was not able to afford one. Gary Nelson, counsel for the state of
Arizona argued that the fact that he only finished 8th grade and was diagnosed to have a little
mental illness, did not make him special and that Mr. Miranda's rights had been made aware of his
rights.
Significance of this Case
The basis for John Flynns argument during the Miranda v. Arizona case was that Ernesto
Miranda was not made aware of his constitutional rights as afforded to him by the Fifth and Sixth
Amendments. During the process of obtaining the confession it was discovered that Ernesto
Miranda held a degree of education similar to someone of the eight grade and was potentially not
of a stable state of mind. It was made as to seem that the arresting officers assumed Ernesto
Miranda was aware of his constitutional rights because he held a prior conviction. John Flynn
emphasized multiple times that even though everyone is entitled to the protection and rights of the
Fight Amendment, not everyone is aware of that simple fact. Before the accused makes any kind
of statement that can potentially incriminate him/herself they must and should be offered counsel
to assure that they truly understand the scope of the events that will transpire and how their words
can be used against them in the court of law.
Conclusion

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This case brought about what may be one of the most important steps an officer must
make when preparing to question a suspect. It is important that it is acknowledged that a suspect
understands their rights, and their ability to invoke them at any time during questioning, so that
any questions they do answer will be admissible in court. An entire case can be lost if the suspect
is not Mirandized prior to questioning or they do not understand their rights. If a suspect is not
given the opportunity to talk with someone who can explain their rights as well as help them to
make the best decision on whether to answer questions or not may cause any confession or
answers to be inadmissible. It was feared that requiring these rights to be addressed prior to
questioning may result in less confessions however, a persons Constitutional Rights have always
been of the upmost importance throughout this country and the decision in this case showed that
that had not changed.

References
FindLaw. (2014). Retrieved from http://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-rights/miranda-rights-andthe-fifth-amendment.html