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Pittsburgh Criminal Lawyer > > Criminal Defense > 68 Years Of Miranda Vs. Arizona

68 Years Of Miranda Vs. Arizona


Until the 1960s, most Americans did not think much about the Fifth Amendment, unless they were law students or criminal defense lawyers.  The right to avoid self-incrimination sounds like an abstract concept until you are in a situation where it can make or break your criminal case.  What would the world be like if you didn’t have the right to avoid self-incrimination?  It would mean that there would be no legal difference between a genuine confession and one obtained through intimidation, misleading statements, or torture.  At its worst, it would be like the Salem Witchcraft Trials of the 17th century.  How do you exercise the right to avoid self-incrimination?  Sometimes people do it by pleading the Fifth Amendment, but more often, they do it by saying nothing at all.  In practice, you almost always have the right to remain silent when police want to talk to you.  Miranda v. Arizona is a Supreme Court decision that says that police must notify detained suspects of their Fifth Amendment rights before questioning them.  If police want to talk to you and you want to avoid incriminating yourself, contact a Pittsburgh criminal defense lawyer.

What Are the Miranda Warnings?

The Miranda warnings are a set of notices that police officers must tell you before they begin questioning you while you are in police custody.  They are sometimes called the Miranda rights, because they all refer to the rights of people accused of crimes, as guaranteed under the Fifth Amendment.  Although the Miranda decision does not specify the exact wording that police must use, they must notify you of the following facts:

  • You have the right to remain silent
  • Anything you say can and will be used against you
  • You have the right to representation by an attorney
  • The state will provide an attorney for you if you cannot afford to hire one

In the News

In June 1966, the U.S. Supreme Court issued the decision Miranda v. Arizona; the decision will celebrate its 68th anniversary next month.  In the decision, the court ordered a new trial for Ernesto Miranda, who was convicted of sexual assault after he signed a pre-written statement of confession; Miranda did not know that he had the right not to sign, and he probably did not understand the content of the statement.  The court ruled that, before questioning suspects, police must notify them of their Fifth Amendment rights.  Current case law only requires police to recite the Miranda warnings before questioning a suspect in custody, but the Fifth Amendment has broader applications.  In commemoration of the anniversary of Miranda, Michael Coard of the Penn Capital-Star reminds the public that anything they say to police, regardless of context, can be used against them, so the best way to stay out of trouble is to remain silent.

Contact Gary E. Gerson About Criminal Defense Cases

A criminal defense lawyer can help you exercise your Fifth Amendment rights if you are under criminal investigation.  Contact the law offices of Gary E. Gerson in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania about your case.



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