You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. Most people have heard these words said at one time or another, but where did they come from? In a landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court, Chief Justice Earl Warren stated that criminals must be informed of their rights, or they are being denied their liberties granted by the Constitution. This all stemmed from a very important controversial case between Ernesto Miranda and the state of Arizona.
In 1963 a poor Mexican immigrant by the name of Ernesto Miranda was arrested for kidnapping and raping a young woman. Prior criminal charges that had been brought against Miranda included armed robbery, attempted rape, assault, and burglary. Following his arrest for raping the young woman, Miranda confessed to the crime after being interrogated by police for two hours. The case went to court and Miranda was found guilty. Although he was found guilty because of his confession, Miranda appealed his case on the fact that he did not know his Fifth Amendment rights.
Miranda appealed the case on the basis that he made his confession without knowing his Fifth Amendment rights which stated he had a right to a lawyer and to not incriminate himself. The case came before the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren in 1966 because it dealt with the rights of criminals, and no other cases before dealt with the issues that were being addressed. After only a little more than three months of deliberation on the matter, in a five to four decision, the Court ruled in favor of Miranda and overturned his conviction. The majority opinion, written by Chief Justice Warren, declared that criminals must be told their rights guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment, and any evidence obtained from them prior to hearing their rights will have been obtained illegally.
This decision made by the Supreme Court was very controversial at the time of its ruling because many people believed that the ruling would allow more criminals to go free because of courtroom technicalities. Many other important cases followed the Miranda decision, which still remains a controversial topic today. Several cases followed Miranda versus Arizona in which defendants made incriminating statements to police without being told their Miranda rights.
One such case in which criminals were not told their rights was Harris versus New York. In this case, the defendant sold drugs to an undercover cop. He was then arrested and read his rights. Since the evidence was obtained before his rights were given to him, the question arose as to whether or not the evidence of the actual sale should be used in trial. Another case, Dickerson versus United States, in this particular case Dickerson confessed to being the driver of a get away car during a series of bank robberies. He made his confession while in police custody and without being told his Fifth Amendment rights. Both of these cases challenged the ruling brought by the Miranda case, but the Miranda ruling set the basic grounds for criminal rights cases today.