Miranda v. Arizona (Decided June 13, 1966)

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Miranda v. Arizona: promoting fairness and enlightening TV dramas ever since.

The Miranda warnings have a familiar cadence today, but it wasn't always like that. Not before this case in 1966.

The case was actually 4 consolidated cases with the same issue. Criminal suspects had been detained by police and interrogated, and confessions were obtained. The questioning officers had not warned the suspects of their 5th Amendment rights, namely that they don't have to incriminate themselves (despite the pressure of the situation) and that they have the right to be counseled by an attorney.

In those four cases brought to the Court's attention, we really can't be sure if things said while under the pressure of the interrogations were really voluntary and not coerced.  However, the Miranda warnings were a way to guarantee the evidence was good, of course second to informing people that they had options when being questioned. 

Further clarification of the ruling

A lot of litigation has surrounded the circumstances of when the need for Miranda warnings is triggered. The Court said the warnings are required when a person is "in police custody." So what qualifies? Our infographic shows a few cases clarifying when someone is in police custody for purposes of the ruling.

For an instructive discussion of several of the post-Miranda cases, see this two-part series published by Justia: