Summary of Miranda v. Arizona 384 U.S. 436 (1966).
Statement of the case: This was an appeal from a conviction for kidnapping and rape.
Statement of the facts: Miranda (D) was arrested and taken to the police station where officers questioned him for two hours. D signed a confession. The confession stated that it was made voluntarily and that D had full knowledge of his legal rights. D’s confession was used against him at trial and over D’s objection. D was convicted of rape and kidnapping. The state supreme court affirmed the conviction. D appealed.
Legal issue: Must law enforcement officials inform an accused of his constitutional rights? Are statements obtained from an individual subjected to custodial police interrogation admissible if he has not been notified of his privilege under the 5th Amendment not to be compelled to incriminate himself?
Holding: Incriminating statements made by an individual are only admissible if the following safeguards have been taken; and/or, when a person is taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom, the following warnings must be given: he has the right to remain silent; that anything he says can be used against him in a court of law; that he has the right to have an attorney present; and if he cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed for him.
Reasoning: (Warren, C.J.) Yes. When a person is taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom, the following warnings must be given: he has the right to remain silent; that anything he says can be used against him in a court of law; that he has the right to have an attorney present; and if he cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed for him. The fifth amendment privilege against self incrimination is jeopardized when a person is taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom. Once these warnings have been given, a person may knowingly and intelligently waive his rights and agree to answer questions or make a statement. No evidence obtained as a result of interrogation can be used against a person unless the prosecution has shown that the person had been informed of his rights. If a person indicates a desire to remain silent or have an attorney present at any time during questioning, the interrogation must cease or cease until an attorney is p! resent. The admissibility of volunteered confessions or statements is not affected by this decision. If the interrogation continues without the presence of an attorney, the state has a heavy burden to demonstrate that the defendant knowingly and intelligently waived his privilege. A valid waiver is not presumed simply from silence. Warnings are a judicial prophylactic to protect the fundamental right against compelled self-incrimination because of the oppressive nature of station house questioning. This case does not hamper police officers in investigating crime because general on-the-scene questioning is not affected. Conviction reversed.
Dissent: (Harlan, Justice) The new rules are not designed to guard against police brutality or other unmistakably banned forms of coercion. The thrust of the new rules is to negate all pressures, to reinforce the nervous or ignorant suspect, and ultimately to discourage any confession at all.
Dissent: (White, Justice) The Fifth Amendment forbids only self-incrimination only if it is compelled. The core of the majority’s opinion is that there is compulsion inherent in custodial surroundings and that no statement made while in custody can be the product of free choice unless the protective devices as described by the court are used.
Critical summary: This is probably the most cited case in legal history.