Definition of Miranda rights
- (US law) Plural form of Miranda right: constitutional rights outlined in the Miranda warning.
The concept of "Miranda rights" was enshrined in U.S. law following the 1966 Miranda v. Arizona Supreme Court decision, which found that the Fifth Amendment and Sixth Amendment rights of Ernesto Arturo Miranda had been violated during his arrest and trial for rape and kidnapping. (Miranda was subsequently retried and convicted.)
The Supreme Court did not specify the exact wording to use when informing a suspect of their rights. However, the Court did create a set of guidelines that must be followed. The ruling states:
...The person in custody must, prior to interrogation, be clearly informed that he or she has the right to remain silent, and that anything the person says will be used against that person in court; the person must be clearly informed that he or she has the right to consult with an attorney and to have that attorney present during questioning, and that, if he or she is indigent, an attorney will be provided at no cost to represent her or him.
As a result, American English developed the verb Mirandize, meaning "read the Miranda warning to" a suspect (when the suspect is arrested).
Notably, the Miranda rights do not have to be read in any particular order, and they do not have to precisely match the language of the Miranda case as long as they are adequately and fully conveyed. California v. Prysock, 453 U.S. 355 (1981).
On June 1, 2010, in deciding the Berghuis v. Thompkins case, the United States Supreme Court declared that criminal defendants who have been read the Miranda rights (and who have indicated they understand them and have not already waived them), must explicitly state during or before an interrogation begins that they wish to be silent and not speak to police in order for that protection against self-incrimination to apply. If they speak to police about the incident before invoking the Miranda right to remain silent, or afterwards at any point during the interrogation or detention, the words they speak may be used against them if they have not stated they do not want to speak to police. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote the opinion and was joined by Justices Scalia, Alito, and Thomas and by Chief Justice Roberts. Justices Stevens, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Breyer dissented. Elena Kagan, who had presented the government's case as Solicitor General of the U.S. and who was nominated to succeed Justice Stevens, supported Kennedy's ruling in her arguments that pointed out that the ruling spelled out for prosecutors and defendants just how the right against self-incrimination applies in such cases. Those who oppose it state that the requirement that the defendant must speak to indicate his intention to remain silent further erodes the ability of the defendant to stay completely silent about the case. This opposition must be put in context with the second option offered by the majority opinion, which allowed that the defendant had the option of remaining silent, saying: " Had he wanted to remain silent, he could have said nothing in response or unambiguously invoked his Miranda rights, ending the interrogation." Thus having been "Mirandized" a suspect may avow explicitly the invocation of these rights, or, alternatively, simply remain silent. Absent the former "anything [said] can and will be used against [the defendant] in a court of law."
- Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.