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Summary Article: Miranda v. Arizona from The Columbia Encyclopedia

U.S. Supreme Court case (1966) in the area of due process of law (see Fourteenth Amendment). The decision reversed an Arizona court's conviction of Ernesto Miranda on kidnapping and rape charges. Identified in a police lineup, Miranda had been questioned, had confessed, and had signed a written statement without being told that he had a right to a lawyer; his confession was used at trial. In overturning Miranda's conviction, Chief Justice Earl Warren held that the prosecution may not use statements made by a person in police custody unless certain minimum procedural safeguards were in place. Before questioning, a person must be given what is now known as a "Miranda warning": that you have the right to remain silent; that anything you say may be used as evidence against you; that you may request the presence of an attorney, either retained by you or appointed by the court; and that you have the right, even after beginning to answer questions, to stop answering or request an attorney. The Miranda decision was one of the most controversial of the Warren Court. Under Chief Justices Warren Burger and William Rehnquist (who as a legal spokesman for the Nixon administration had proposed that Miranda be overturned), a Supreme Court more friendly to police operations limited its scope several times, although failing to reverse its central holding, and in 2000 the Rehnquist court, in an opinion authored by the chief justice, reaffirmed the original decision as a constitutional rule that may not be overturned by an act of Congress. Under a 2010 Supreme Court ruling, when a person has invoked Miranda rights, law-enforcement officials may attempt to resume questioning without a lawyer present 14 days after that person has been released from custody. Civil liberties groups have continued to protest that police routinely omit Miranda warnings.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2017

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