June 13 marks the 50th anniversary of the seminal opinion in Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). In a 5-4 opinion written by Chief Justice Earl Warren, the Supreme Court answered the question of whether statements made by a suspect during custodial interrogations are admissible against him in a criminal trial. The opinion also answered whether procedural safeguards must be in place to ensure that the defendant is afforded protections guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment.
Miranda consolidated several cases, each involving interrogation of a suspect. Each suspect made statements that were admitted at trial and each was convicted.
The Court held that a suspect in custodial custody “must be warned prior to any questioning that he has the right to remain silent, that anything he says can be used against him in a court of law, that he has the right to the presence of an attorney, and that if he cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed for him prior to any questioning if he so desires.”
Miranda’s case was remanded and, at retrial for kidnapping and rape, his confession was not introduced. However, he was again convicted and received a sentence of 20-30 years in prison.
Over the years, the Court has refined its opinion in Miranda. However, it’s importance over the past decades is evident in common recognition of a suspect being read his or her Miranda rights.