Definition of Miranda warning
From Miranda v. Arizona, the usual name for a U.S. Supreme Court case in which the Court held that criminal suspects must be informed of certain rights.
Miranda warning (plural Miranda warnings)
- (US law) A warning given by a law enforcement officer to criminal suspects in his custody advising them of certain constitutional rights, called their Miranda rights.
The Miranda warning (also referred to as Miranda rights) is a warning that is required to be given by police in the United States to criminal suspects in police custody (or in a custodial interrogation) before they are interrogated to inform them about their constitutional rights. In Miranda v. Arizona, the Supreme Court of the United States held that an elicited incriminating statement by a suspect will not constitute admissible evidence unless the suspect was informed of the right to decline to make self-incriminatory statements and the right to legal counsel (hence the so-called "Miranda rights"), and makes a knowing, intelligent and voluntary waiver of those rights. The Miranda warning is not a condition of detention, but rather a safeguard against self-incrimination; as a result, if law enforcement officials decline to offer a Miranda warning to an individual in their custody, they may still interrogate that person and act upon the knowledge gained, but may not use that person's statements to incriminate him or her in a criminal trial.
Under the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Berghuis v. Thompkins suspects retain their 5th Amendment right to remain silent, however, if a suspect waives this right and interrogation begins, the right to halt further interrogation by the police must be exercised explicitly, by revoking the prior waiver of this 5th Amendment right.
Every U.S. jurisdiction has its own regulations regarding what, precisely, must be said to a person arrested or placed in a custodial situation. The typical warning states:
You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say or do can and will be held against you in a court of law. You have the right to speak to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you. Do you understand these rights as they have been read to you?
The courts have since ruled that the warning must be "meaningful", so it is usually required that the suspect be asked if he understands his rights. Sometimes, firm answers of "yes" are required. Some departments and jurisdictions require that an officer ask "do you understand?" after every sentence in the warning. An arrestee's silence is not a waiver, but on June 1, 2010, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that police are allowed to interrogate suspects who have not unambiguously invoked or waived their rights, and any statement given during questioning prior to invocation or waiving is admissible as evidence. Evidence has in some cases been ruled inadmissible because of an arrestee's poor knowledge of English and the failure of arresting officers to provide the warning in the arrestee's language.
Also because of various education levels, officers must make sure the suspect understands what the officer is saying. It may be necessary to "translate" to the suspect's level of understanding. Courts have ruled this admissible as long as the original waiver is said and the "translation" is recorded either on paper or on tape.
Some jurisdictions provide the right of a juvenile to remain silent if their parent or guardian is not present.
Even though this sentence may be somewhat ambiguous to some laypersons, the U.S. Supreme Court has approved of it as an accurate description of the procedure in those states. Duckworth v. Eagan, 492 U.S. 195 (1989) (upholding use of sentence by Hammond, Indiana police).
In states bordering Mexico, including Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, suspects who are not United States citizens are given an additional warning:
If you are not a United States citizen, you may contact your country's consulate prior to any questioning.
Some states including Virginia require the following sentence, ensuring that the suspect knows that waiving Miranda rights is not a one-time absolute occurrence:
You can decide at any time from this moment on to terminate the interview and exercise these rights.
California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington and Pennsylvania also add the following questions to comply with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
Question 1: Do you understand each of these rights I have explained to you?
Question 2: Having these rights in mind, do you wish to talk to us now?
An affirmative answer to both of the above questions waives the rights. If the suspect responds "no" to the first question, the officer is required to re-read the Miranda warning, while saying "no" to the second question invokes the right at that moment; in either case the interviewing officer or officers cannot question the suspect until the rights are waived.
Source: Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.