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What is a Miranda warning?

We hear it on T.V. and in the movies: You have the right to remain silent. We believe we know what it means, and that we know when law enforcement must use these words. But, do we really know as much as we think we do?

What is the Miranda warning? Is it always required?

Who was Miranda?

Police arrested Ernesto Miranda in Arizona on rape and kidnapping charges. During interrogation, Miranda signed a confession. The prosecution used his confession during trial. The court found him guilty and sentenced him to 20-30 years. Miranda fought his conviction. He claimed that law enforcement did not tell him his rights and that law enforcement violated his due process rights.

The United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) heard Miranda’s case in 1966 and reversed and remanded the case back to the trial court. What exactly does this mean? SCOTUS determined that the officers obtained Ernesto Miranda’s confession illegally, and ordered the case re-tried without the confession.

What does this mean for you and me?

Put simply, it means that the U.S. Constitution guarantees us the right to remain silent, and it is up to law enforcement to ensure we know this right.

When law enforcement omits our rights, the courts allow us to challenge our arrest and conviction.

How can an attorney help?

Criminal law attorneys know the rules of evidence and your Constitutional Rights. They pledge to protect those rights. Retaining an attorney assures you that your rights are scrutinized and protected. Protect yourself, protect your future — use your right to an attorney.