The Miranda warnings are set out in the doctrine enunciated by the United States Supreme Court in 1966 in the case of Miranda v. Arizona, (384 U.S. 436). These warnings requirement consist in effectively advising and informing the criminal suspect that he has the right to remain silent, anything he says can and will be used against him; he has the right to confer with a counsel before being interrogated and to have such counsel present while he is being interrogated and that if the suspect cannot afford counsel, one will be provided for him before the interrogation if he so desires (Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436).
The defendant may “voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently” waive these rights before or at any stage of the interrogation (Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436). The Court further ruled that statements made by the criminal suspect shall be inadmissible during the trial unless it is shown that he waived his rights intelligently and knowingly after being informed of the same and after being given the opportunity to exercise them (Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436). These warnings are held to afford the criminal suspect his Fifth Amendment constitutional right against self-incrimination and the Sixth Amendment right to counsel including the due process clause of the Constitution.
The warnings are held to apply when the criminal suspect is under the custody of the police and under interrogation. In explaining what ‘custody’ constituted, the Court held that it consisted in the “restriction of freedom of movement by police” (Oxford Companion, 2005). On the other hand, the Court held in the case of Rhode Island v. Innis (1980) that ‘interrogation’ “exists whenever police reasonably expect that a suspect is likely to offer incriminating information” (Oxford Companion, 2005).
The Miranda warnings became very controversial and widely criticized in the beginning. Law enforcement supporters were angered and claimed that the doctrine undermined the efficiency of the police. However, through the years although it had been tested and retried—the doctrine has time and again reaffirmed.
It signifies the manner by which the society views the lowly criminal suspect as one to be accorded with dignity and respect and whose rights must still be protected. Thus, it signifies protection of the defendant’s interests as well as those of the society’s.
The Miranda safeguards are crafted due to the nature and intense pressures of custodial investigations. Most often the criminal suspect is at a disadvantage and the police officers, at an advantageous position. The suspect may be compelled to admit his guilt out of fear or try to vindicate himself thereby increasing the risk of providing evidence against himself. It was also devised as a deterrent to police considering that there is tremendous opportunity for physical coercion and violence.
These safeguards also served as clear guidelines to be followed by the police as well as the courts. It made it easier and practical to sort which confessions or evidence may be excluded and be suppressed and which confessions may be held to be admissible. Moreover, the police are also guided as to the proper procedure and conduct to be observed beforehand and to enable them to determine more or less what evidence may be admitted by the court. This conserves time and resources both for the court and the police as against the standard used prior to the Miranda doctrine which was the ‘voluntariness test.’
Finally, these safeguards are most significant because it had been reaffirmed and extrapolated for decades. The most recent reaffirmation of the doctrine was in the case of Dickerson v. U.S., (2000) 530 U.S. 428 where the Court held that the Miranda warning is a constitutional rule considering that it is grounded in the Constitution. It further upheld the Miranda decision as constitutional.
“Miranda has become embedded in routine police practice to the point where the warnings have become part of our natural culture. While we have overruled our precedents when subsequent cases have undermined their doctrinal underpinnings, we do not believe that this has happened to the Miranda decision. If anything, our subsequent cases have reduced the impact of the Miranda rule on legitimate law enforcement while reaffirming the decision’s core ruling that unwarned statements may not be used as evidence in the prosecution’s case in chief” (Dickerson v. U.S., (2000) 530 U.S. 428).
Dickerson v. U.S., (2000) 530 U.S. 428. Retrieved on August 2, 2007, from
Miranda v. Arizona, (384 U.S. 436). Retrieved on August 2, 2007, from
The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States. Oxford University Press, 2005 edition.
Find Law for Legal Professionals Confessions: police interrogation, due process, and self- incrimination. U.S. Constitution: Fifth Amendment: Annotations pg. 9 of 16. Retrieved on August 2, 2007, from