June 13: Miranda Makes It OK to Stay Mum

Ernesto Miranda

On June 13, 1966, the Supreme Court of United States decided that all criminal suspects must be advised of their rights before an interrogation.

The decision was a legal procedural landmark that marked the transition from the “tell me all you know” method to the “you have the right to remain silent…” scenario. It all started with Ernesto Arturo Miranda. He recanted his confession in a 1963 rape case.  Miranda was a laborer whose conviction on kidnapping, rape, and armed robbery charges were based on his confession under usual police interrogation and sparked the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case (Miranda v. Arizona).

What we now know as being “read your rights” came out of their ruling that criminal suspects must be informed of their right against self-incrimination and their right to consult with an attorney prior to questioning by police. The Miranda warning was born.

Even after the Supreme Court decision set aside Miranda’s initial conviction, undeterred, the state of Arizona retried him and he got 11 years in prison on conviction.

Years later, Miranda was killed during a poker game.

His alleged murderer, according to the law, had to be advised of his Miranda rights. The suspect took the advice to heart, was released and fled to Mexico. Happy Birthday, Miranda Rights!

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