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Miranda v. Arizona, Ernesto Miranda, Miranda Rights and Related Cases

I have not updated this page since about 2005. Please forgive the broken links.

Your "Miranda Rights" help protect your right against self-incrimination, as provided by the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution. These rights are based on the Supreme Court decision in Miranda v. Arizona.

On this page:

I also have an entire page devoted to the origin and use of the Miranda Warning.

Miranda v. Arizona

In 1963, Ernesto Miranda was arrested in Phoenix, Arizona for stealing $8 from bank worker and charged with armed robbery. He already had a record for armed robbery, and a juvenile record including attempted rape, assault and burglary. While in police custody, he signed a written confession to the robbery, and also to kidnapping and raping an 18-year-old woman 11 days before the robbery. After the conviction, his lawyers appealed, on the grounds that Miranda did not know he was protected from self-incrimination.

The case, Miranda v. Arizona, made it all the way to the Supreme Court, where the conviction was overthrown. In a landmark ruling issued in 1966, the court established that the accused have the right to remain silent and that prosecutors may not use statements made by defendants while in police custody unless the police have advised them of their rights, commonly called the Miranda Rights. The case was later re-tried. Miranda was convicted on the basis of other evidence and served 11 years. He was paroled in 1972, and died in 1976 at the age of 34, after being stabbed in a bar fight. A suspect was arrested but chose to excercise his right to remain silent, and was released.

For a more detailed history of Ernesto Miranda's actions and the course of the trials, see Court TV's Crime Library: Miranda vs Arizona. The site also has mug shots of Miranda.

US v. Dickerson

In 1968, Congress passed a law trying to get around the Miranda ruling, which said that prosecutors in federal cases can use statements gathered without informing suspects of their Miranda rights, as long as the statements were given voluntarily. This law was seldom invoked. However, in February, 1999, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling that in Federal cases the law has precedence over the 1966 Miranda ruling by the Supreme court. This decision was highly criticized because it greatly weakened defendants' rights in federal cases, and because the court's ruling invoked the 1968 law, even though the prosecution had not tried to invoke the law in its appeal. In June 2000, the Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Dickerson that the 1966 Supreme Court ruling had precedence over the 1968 federal law because the ruling was based on constitutional rights.

Yarborough v. Alvarado

Michael Alvarado was brought in for questioning when he was seventeen, and was not read his Miranda rights before the interrogation session began. He was convicted of second degree murder and attempted robbery, in part based on incriminating statements made during the interrogation session. While previous rulings have established that you do not have to read Miranda rights when a "reasonable person" knows that they can get up and leave at any time, the case has been appealed, since Michael was a minor and there are generally special protections for minors.

Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of Nevada, Humboldt

Larry "Dudley" Hiibel was sitting on the side of the road in his truck when police asked him for identification, based on suspicions of a violent argument. Hiibel said he had done nothing wrong and refused to provide identification. The police arrested him, and he was convicted of a misdemeanor for resisting arrest. Hiibel's case before the Supreme Court is that the police only had reasonable suspicion that he had done something wrong, and not probable cause, and therefore Hiibel should not have been required to give them any information, including his name.

Further Resources