What Is the Miranda Warning and Why Do We Need It?

What Is the Miranda Warning and Why Do We Need It?

(ConservativeInsider.org) – Anyone who has watched an episode of Law & Order can probably recite the Miranda warning from memory. However, chances are, they don’t know it by that name.

You know the routine. You’re watching a cop show or flick on Netflix, and a suspect gets arrested. After hearing “freeze, you’re under arrest,” the next thing you’ll likely hear is, “You have the right to remain silent…”

Guess what? You just listened to the Miranda warning!

The warning gets its name from the landmark Supreme Court case Miranda v. Arizona, which established its use. Decided in 1966, Miranda v. Arizona consolidated four cases involving interrogation while in police custody.

In all four cases, police officers or prosecutors questioned suspects without the benefit of legal counsel. Additionally, interrogators failed to provide an adequate warning to the defendants of their rights.

The Supreme Court ruled in Miranda that Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination was available to individuals outside of courtrooms as was the Sixth Amendment right to counsel. The Court also held that defendants “must be warned” of their rights.

Put another way, defendants in criminal proceedings “plead the fifth” to avoid incriminating themselves. On the streets, cops recite the Miranda warning to remind suspects that they cannot force them to incriminate themselves while in custody.

Additionally, once a suspect invokes their “right to remain silent,” all bets are off, and the interrogation must immediately halt. Pretty nifty, huh?

Why the Miranda Warning Is Important

The Miranda warning remains an integral part of the American criminal justice procedure and not just a catchphrase that sounds good in Hollywood. Its warnings establish the ground rules for custodial questioning, ensuring that suspects and interrogators alike are playing on even ground.

At its core, Miranda is an affirmation that every American has rights that law enforcement cannot override. Its warnings maintain a sense of balance between police and the general public and serves as a warning to police officers that suspects have rights that they cannot violate.

As Justice Tom C. Clark wrote in Miranda’s partial concurrence, solving crimes is “a difficult and arduous task” at best. However, law enforcement officials “cannot run roughshod” over a citizen’s rights.

And that’s why the Miranda warning remains as relevant today as it was over fifty years ago.

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