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Miranda v. Arizona (1966)

In the landmark supreme court case Miranda v. Arizona (1966), the Court held that if police do not inform people they arrest about certain constitutional rights, including their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, then their confessions may not be used as evidence at trial. The Court referenced Mapp v. Ohio (1961) as the basis for excluding the confessions. The ruling was also based on the assertions that the Fifth Amendment privilege is “fundamental to our system of constitutional rule” and that to inform the accused of their rights is “expedient [and] simple.”

In the decision of United States v. Dickerson (2000), the Supreme Court said, “Miranda has become embedded in routine police warnings to the point where the warnings have become part of our national culture.”

Discussion Questions

  1. Why did the Supreme Court overturn Miranda’s conviction?
  2. According to the Court’s majority opinion,” the prosecution may not use statements…stemming from … interrogation of the defendant unless it demonstrates the use of procedural safeguards effective to secure the privilege against self-incrimination.” What are the effects of this ruling for accused persons? For society?
  3. Justice Harlan, who wrote the Court’s dissenting opinion in the case, said, “The social costs of crime are too great to call the new rules anything but a hazardous experimentation. One is entitled to feel astonished that the Constitution can be read to produce this result.” Do you agree? Why or why not?