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You heard of the Miranda Warning? When caught? Most Common Misunderstandings

The Miranda warning comes from one of the biggest legal cases of the 1960s when Ernesto Miranda was arrest in 1963

Thanks to countless arrest scenes in TV and movies, it’s one of the best-known applications of the Fifth Amendment.

But what you don’t know about Miranda could be more significant than you think.

Common misunderstandings about Miranda warnings

National Constitution Center

By Scott Bomboy

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Ernesto Miranda arrest photo, 1963

Last year, there was a big debate about the Miranda warning and Boston terror suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Federal investigators said after Tsarnaev’s detention that he wouldn’t be read his Miranda rights under something called the “public safety exemption.”

Under the exemption, police can interrogate a suspect without advising him or her of Miranda rights if they believe the suspect could have information about an imminent threat to public safety.

That exemption allowed investigators to interrogate Tsarnaev while in custody, without informing Tsarnaev of his rights to a lawyer and his right to stay silent.

According to an AP report, after 16 hours of questioning, a representative of the United States Attorney’s office read Tsarnaev his Miranda warning, and the suspect stopped talking to investigators.

The “Miranda” in the Miranda warning was Ernesto Miranda. He was arrested in March 1963 in Phoenix and confessed while in police custody to kidnapping and rape charges.

His lawyers sought to overturn his conviction after they learned during a cross-examination that Miranda wasn’t told he had the right to a lawyer and had the right to remain silent.

(Miranda had signed a confession that acknowledged that he understood his legal rights.)

The Supreme Court overturned Miranda’s conviction in 1966 in its ruling for Miranda v. Arizona, which established guidelines for how detained suspects are informed of their constitutional rights.

The Miranda warning actually includes elements of the Fifth Amendment (protection against self-incrimination), the Sixth Amendment (a right to counsel) and the 14th Amendment (application of the ruling to all 50 states).

There are common misunderstandings about what Miranda rights are, and how they can protect someone under criminal investigation.

First, there isn’t one official Miranda warning that is read to a suspect by a police officer.

Each state determines how their law enforcement officers issue the warning. The Supreme Court requires that person is told about their right to silence, their right to a lawyer (including a public defender), their ability to waive their Miranda rights, and that what they tell investigators under questioning, after their detention, can be used in court.

The Miranda warning is only used by law enforcement when a person is in police custody (and usually under arrest) and about to be questioned.

Anything you say to an investigator or police officer before you’re taken into custody—and read your Miranda rights—can be used in a court of law, which includes interviews where a person is free to leave the premises and conversations at the scene of an alleged crime.

In fact, Ernesto Miranda came into a Phoenix police station voluntarily to answer questions in 1963 and also took place in a police lineup.

The police can ask you questions about identification, including your name and address, without a Miranda warning. And they can use any spontaneous expressions made by you as evidence—for example, if you say something without the prompting of police before you’re taken into custody.

Of course, you’re still protected by your Miranda rights—after you’re detained—even if you waive them after an arrest.

At any time, during an interrogation, you can stop answering questions and ask for a lawyer.

In the case of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, investigators probably felt they had enough evidence to charge him and win a case in court without any of the information Tsarnaev volunteered before he was read his rights.

As for Ernesto Miranda, though his original conviction was set aside by the Supreme Court ruling, he was retried and convicted, and was in jail until 1972–then in and out of jail several more times until 1976. After being released in 1976, he was fatally stabbed during a bar fight. His suspected killer was read his Miranda rights and didn’t answer questions from police. There was never a conviction in Miranda’s death.

Scott Bomboy is the editor-in-chief of the National Constitution Center.

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Let me tell you this story.  In around 1887, the monarch of Belgium, Leopold, convinced the western European colonial powers to get all the Congo as his “private property”.  The colonial powers believed that Leopold will exhaust all his wealth in no time running 20 million African natives.  Leopold put together an army of 90,000 soldiers to exploit the Congo, mainly rubber and wood.

In a single day, 3,000 natives, including underaged boys, had their right hand chopped off.  Why?  They failed to bring in the allocated quota of rubber to the exploiting power.

Within two decades, 10 out of 20 million African natives died.  One year before Leopold is to die, the State of Belgium declared that the Congo is no longer a private property.  The state of Belgium claimed that it was not aware of the horrors and atrocities committed there during the last 20 years!  The horrors continued with less killing and cutting of hands:  Manpower was diminishing horribly.

Let me ask you a question.  Suppose the cable channels ran live the two horror events; the Twin Tower crumbling and trapping 3,000 employees and the story of 3,000 African natives hoarded in Indian file to have their right hand cut off.  Which scene is more revolting?  Which scene will make you scream hysterically: “Why mankind has to be saved?!”

Nineteen extremist Moslems (17 out of 19 are Wahhabi from Saudi Arabia) committed suicide:  They smashed commercial airliners with the passengers in the Towers and the pentagon.  What was the reaction of Bush Jr. and company?  “If you are not with us then, you are evils”  Who were against Bush Jr. and company? Al Qaeda members? The Afghan people? All the Moslems?  The over one million Iraqis dead who had nothing to do with this incident? The French people?  The German people?  All people in this “Old decrepit” western Europe?

The Us government (including Congress and Senate members) were supposed to uphold the US Constitution.  Then, why the American people sided with this nihilist ideology?

Misery is not vanquished by war but is multiplied.  Resentments are not resolved by bombs; they are multiplied.  Bush Jr. and company emulated the terrorist ideology of Al Qaeda and surpassed it a thousand folds.  Is that called “democratic culture”?

If the leading state of liberty, freedom of belief, and human rights forgets in a second three centuries of Constitutional rights and application then, what the world should expect of dictatorial and obscurantist States running the developing nations?  Since when a terrorist act must lead to “war of civilization”?  Since when acts of terrorisms demand “religious wars” in this 21th century?

Don’t you realize that the latest uproars in 9/11 were out of subject matter?




March 2023

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