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A Latinx Resource Guide: Civil Rights Cases and Events in the United States

1966: Miranda v. Arizona

"Prior to any questioning, the person must be warned that he has a right to remain silent, that any statement he does make may be used as evidence against him, and that he has a right to the presence of an attorney, either retained or appointed."

—Chief Justice Earl Warren

Earl Warren, 1891. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

In a 5-4 Supreme Court decision Miranda v. Arizona (1966) ruled that an arrested individual is entitled to rights against self-discrimination and to an attorney under the 5th and 6th Amendments of the United States Constitution. Miranda v. Arizona (1966) culminated in the famed “Miranda rights” requirement during arrests.

On March 13, 1963, police arrested Ernesto Miranda on charges of rape and kidnapping after a witness identified him in Phoenix, Arizona. During his two-hour interrogation, police did not advise Miranda on his constitutional rights to an attorney nor against self-incrimination. Nonetheless, he signed a written confession affirming knowledge of these rights and admitting to crimes. This confession led to a June 27, 1963 conviction of rape and kidnapping as well as a robbery pending on Miranda’s record. Judge McFate sentenced Miranda to a maximum fifty-five years in prison. Miranda’s lawyer, Alvin Moore, appealed the case to the Arizona Supreme Court, which reaffirmed the lower court’s decision, arguing that police had not violated Miranda’s constitutional rights in procuring a confession without the presence of a lawyer.

The Supreme Court ruled differently on June 13, 1966. It held that presenting Miranda’s confession as evidence violated his constitutional rights under the 5th and 6th Amendments. The 5th Amendment protects from self-incrimination and requires the police to inform the detainee about his or her rights while the 6th guarantees criminal suspects rights to a personal or state issued attorney. Chief Justice Earl Warren articulated that the court permitted confessions or self-incriminating statements in criminal trials only when suspects issued them deliberately after police inform of their rights. Miranda v. Arizona (1966) included four dissenters and three separate dissenting opinions.

After Arizona’s ruling was overturned, the state court retried the case without presenting Miranda’s confession. They convicted him of the same charges, and sentenced him to a maximum 30 years in prison. Four years after his release on parole, a killer, who did receive his Miranda rights, stabbed Miranda to death.

The Four Miranda Warnings

  1. You have the right to remain silent.
  2. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
  3. You have the right to an attorney.
  4. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.

Timeline

March 3, 1963 Phoenix police arrest Miranda on charges of rape, kidnapping, and robbery. After two hours of questioning, Miranda signs a written confession.
March 27, 1963 The court denies Miranda legal representation at a preliminary hearing.
June 12, 1965 Alvin Moore appeals Miranda’s case to the Supreme Court of Arizona claiming his constitutional rights under the 5th and 6th Amendment had been violated. The state of Arizona reaffirms Miranda’s conviction. Miranda appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court.
November 15, 1965 The U.S. Supreme Court decides to hear Miranda’s case.
February 28, 1966 Lawyers argue Miranda v. Arizona before the Supreme Court.
June 12, 1966 Chief Justice Earl Warren delivers his decision, ruling Miranda’s confession is illegitimate and holding that Miranda’s constitutional rights under the 5th and 6th Amendment were violated.
February 15, 1967 Miranda’s second trial commences and lasts nine days.
March 1, 1967 Arizona jury finds Miranda guilty of rape, kidnapping, and robbery without his confession and the judge sentences him to a maximum 30 years in prison.
1972 Miranda is released from prison on parole.
January 31, 1976 A killer, who receives his Miranda rights, stabs Miranda to death.

Resources

The following resource is available online at the Library of Congress.

Staff in the Hispanic Reading Room can provide access to these books at the Library of Congress. If you cannot visit the Library in person, please contact us using Ask a Librarian for assistance. In many cases, you can also find these materials at your local library.

The following titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional online content are included when available.

The following external websites can be useful for expanding your research on Miranda v. Arizona.

Featured Video

On Law Day 2016, Roberta Shaffer interviewed Paulette Brown Brown about her distinguished legal career as well as the significance of the 1966 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Miranda v. Arizona.