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Miranda v. Arizona


The defendant was arrested at his home for a rape and taken to the police station. While there, the victim identified him as the rapist. The police took the defendant to an interrogation room, where he was questioned by two officers. These officers later testified at trial that the defendant was not advised that he had a right to have an attorney present during his questioning. The officers also testified that the defendant was not told that he had a right to be free from self-incrimination. The defendant signed a statement that contained a pre-prepared clause stating that he had “full knowledge” of his “legal rights.” At trial, the written confession was admitted against the defendant and he was convicted.


Whether the written confession given by the defendant was obtained in violation of the defendant’s Fifth Amendment right to be free from compulsion?


Yes. The defendant has a right to know of his Fifth Amendment privilege against compulsory self-incrimination before he can effectively waive it.


The Court held that “the prosecution may not use statements, whether exculpatory or inculpatory, stemming from custodial interrogation of the defendant unless it demonstrates the use of procedural safeguards effective to secure the privilege against self-incrimination.” The Court defined a “custodial interrogation” as “questioning initiated by law enforcement officers after a person has been taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way [underline added].” The procedural safeguards required by the Court consisted of four warnings that must be provided to the suspect before a custodial interrogation can take place:

1) The suspect must be notified that he has the right to remain silent.

2) The suspect must be notified that any statement made may be used as evidence against him.

3) That the suspect has the right to consult with a lawyer and have the lawyer present during the questioning.

4) The suspect must be informed that if he cannot afford to retain a lawyer, one will be appointed to represent him prior to any questioning.

Once these warnings have been given, then and only then, can the individual voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently waive these rights. However, “if the individual indicates in any manner that he wishes to remain silent, the interrogation must cease.”

Similarly, “if the individual states that he wants an attorney, the interrogation must cease until an attorney is present.”


384 U.S. 436, 86 S. Ct. 1602 (1966)

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