The United States Constitution guarantees all defendants protection against self-incrimination and upholds the right of all defendants to be represented by an attorney. Although these rights were outlined long ago, it was not until fairly recently that police were required to inform defendants of their rights after arresting them. This doctrine was established in the US Supreme Court case of Miranda v. Arizona.
In 1963, Ernesto Miranda was arrested and charged with the kidnapping and rape of an 18-year-old woman. When the case went to trial, he was convicted due to a confession he had made to police during interrogation. After appeals, Miranda v. Arizona was brought before the Supreme Court, where Ernesto claimed that he was not aware of his rights to remain silent and have a lawyer present during question, and that police had violated his constitutional rights in getting his confession. The Supreme Court agreed with Ernesto and ruled that police had an obligation to inform suspects of their rights before any questioning, otherwise evidence obtained during interrogation would be inadmissible in court. Unfortunately for Ernesto Miranda, even though he was granted a new trial, he was convicted based on other police evidence and sentenced to jail time.
“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 speak to an attorney, and to have an attorney present during any questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you at government expense.”
This short paragraph is known as the “Miranda warning,” and is an example of the rights that police must “read” to suspects in order to make sure they are aware of their rights. In some situations, the defendant may have to sign a document saying that they have been made aware of these rights.
If you are ever arrested and charged with a crime, remember the rights that were guaranteed to you by the Constitution and illuminated by Miranda v. Arizona. You have the right to remain silent during questioning, and you have the right to pick up the phone and call San Jose criminal lawyer Daniel Jensen at (408) 296-4100 for experienced and effective legal representation.