The case involves an appeal in the U.S. Supreme Court against conviction of Ernest Miranda for rape and kidnapping of a young woman and sentencing him for 20 to 30 years of imprisonment on each charge to run concurrently.
Facts of the case
Ernest Miranda, a young Mexican man about 28 years old, kidnapped and raped an 18-year old woman Lois Ann Jameson while she had been returning home from Paramount Theater in downtown Phoenix where she worked along with a coworker and after she got down from the bus alone. After complaining to the police, Lois could not identify culprit from among the suspects police showed her until she herself found the culprit when she had been going to work escorted by her brother-in-law, a week after the rape . Miranda who turned out to be a 23-year-old man, poor and just completed his ninth grade was arrested in his home. The officers who arrested him made him give a confessional statement based on which he was convicted of rape and kidnap, without a formal warning though the written forced confessional statement contained that warning .
What are the major issues the case is addressing?
The issue before the court was whether police must inform a suspect under custodial interrogation about his/her constitutional rights against self-incrimination and right to counsel before questioning.3- What was the ruling of the lower court?
The judge MCFate of the trial court informed the jury that Miranda’s confession if voluntary could be allowed. He added that confession could not be considered involuntary merely because Miranda was under arrest at the time his giving the confessional statement or he was not represented by an attorney or that he was not informed that his any statement could and would not be used against him. The appeal against the decision before the Supreme Court of Arizona confirmed the decision of the trail court. 4- What was the majority (ruling) opinion of the case?
Supreme Court of the in its 5-4 majority opinion held that evidence extracted by the police during the custodial interrogation of a suspect cannot be used in a court unless the suspect was informed of his following rights prior to interrogation.
- The right to remain silent.
- That any statement made by him can and will be used against him or her in a court of law.
- The right to have an attorney present during questioning.
- That if the suspect cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for him to be present before questioning.
The court stated that the Fifth Amendment privilege of a warning being given to the suspect is the basic constitutional rule. Whether or not he was aware of his rights, the court would not speculate given his age, education, knowledge and prior contact with authorities. A warning should be the clear fact. As such, regardless of the background of the suspect, a warning at the time of interrogation about his rights is inevitable to ensure that the suspect is aware of his right to exercise the privilege at that a particular point of time. The warning of right to remain silent should also be accompanied by the explanation that whatever said by him can and will be used against the suspect in court. The purpose of the warning is to make sure that the suspect is aware of not only the privilege but also the consequences of not availing of it. It is only through the knowledge of these consequences on the part of the suspect that there can be an assurance of the true understanding of the privilege and intelligent exercise of that privilege. This warning is also to make the suspect to be aware that he is pitted against an adversary system which does not act solely in his interest. Significance of the case is that it has had the deepest impact on the day-to-day crime investigation of police and the warning in the real sense has become the routine police procedure ever since. While supporters have hailed the decision, critics say that the Supreme Court is soft on crime and coddling criminals. Miranda decision has withstood the test of time and its overruling in future is remote. Dissenting Opinion
Four justices dissented for the reason that suspect would always demand a lawyer and police would not be able to provide one and then get a confession. They stated that majority judges went too far to eliminate coercion . One of the dissenting judges Harlan opined that the majority decision entailed harmful consequences for the country at large and how serious they are can only be known by passage of time. And however, that the flaws of the decision are apparent in that the new rule cannot safeguard one against brutality of the police who could always use third degree tactics and skillfully deny. The voluntariness of the confession would only remain in the utopian sense.
Terry v Ohio
Facts of the case
A Cleveland detective while on patrol suspected two strangers at a street corner of some wrong doing as they proceeded back and forth 24 times on the same route and paused to stare a store window. Every time they completed one round, they were joined by a third man who left swiftly after a brief conversation. The detective suspected the two men of “casing a job, a stick up” and found them joining the third man after certain distance in front of a store. When the detective approached the three men, identified himself and asked for their names, they mumbled something. The officer searched one of the men, the person of the petitioner in the case and found a pistol in his overcoat which he could not remove. The detective led them into the store and removed the petitioner’s overcoat and removed the pistol. He ordered them to face the wall with their hands raised and removed pistols form the other two and therefore took all of them to the station. They were charged with carrying concealed weapons.
Issue : Whether an officer may conduct search for weapons without a warrant even if there is no probable cause when he reasonably believes that person to be searched is armed or dangerous. In other words, whether such a search is unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment .
Lower Court decision
The trial court rejected the prosecution’s contention that the guns were seized during a search incidental to a lawful arrest but rejected the petitioner’s (John W. Terry) motion to suppress the evidence for the reason that the officer had the reasonable cause to believe that the petitioner and Chilton acted in a suspicious manner and therefore while he wanted to interrogate them, he searched them and removed the pistols for his own safety. The court made a distinction between the investigatory “stop” and arrest as also between “frisk” and “full blown search”. As such, the petitioner and Chilton were found guilty. The Supreme Court of the State also followed suit by dismissing their appeal on the ground that there was no substantial constitutional question involved.
The U.S. Supreme court’s decision
The US Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the lower court for the following reasons: The Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures was made applicable to the States by Fourteenth Amendment for protection of people and not places. It can be therefore invoked equally for citizens on the streets as well as at home or at any other place. The issue in this case is not the propriety of the police conduct but admissibility of the evidence that emerged during the search and seizure. The exclusionary rule cannot be used to prevent police from using investigative techniques and the approval of the court should not discourage other remedies against police abuses.
The Fourth Amendment is applicable to “stop and frisk” procedures: (a) A person is deemed to have been seized within the meaning of Fourth Amendment if a police officer accosts that person and restrains him from walking away. (b) It is a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment even if it involves thorough search of the outer surface of clothing of the person in order to find a weapon. Where a police officer reasonably believes that in the interest of his own protection or others’ protection, he should make a search whether or not he has a probable cause to arrest that person for crime or certain that the person is armed. However, the police must secure a warrant wherever practicable to make search and seizure. However, this need not be followed if the circumstances require a swift action on the part of the police on beat. The reasonableness of a search must be judged in the light of prevailing circumstances against the requirement that a man of reasonable caution should believe that action to be taken is appropriate. The officer was carrying out a legitimate duty of investigating a suspicious conduct. The search for weapons without a probable cause must be circumscribed by the exigencies of the situation. The officer is justified in making an intrusion short of an arrest if he apprehends danger before being overcome by the fact justifying an arrest. The officer’s search amounted to what was minimally necessary and therefore the evidence of seizure of the pistol was lawfully admitted by the Court below and permissible under the Fourth Amendment .
Justice William Douglass dissented for the reason that majority decision gave powers to the police officers which even a magistrate does not possess .
Burgan, M. (2006). Miranda V. Arizona: The Rights of the Accused. Minneapolis: Capstone .
CaseBriefs. (n.d.). Terry v Ohio . Retrieved Oct 13, 2013, from Casebreifs. com : http://www.casebriefs.com/blog/law/criminal-procedure/criminal-procedure-keyed-to-weinreb/the-fourth-amendment-arrest-and-search-and-seizure/terry-v-ohio-4/2/
del Carmen, R. V., & Walker, J. T. (2011). Briefs of Leading Cases in Law Enforcement (8 ed.). Waltham, MA: Elsevier.
Hook, S. V. (2012). Miranda V. Arizona: An Individual's Rights When Under Arrest . Minnesota: ABDO.
LegalInformationInstitute. (n.d ). Terry v Ohio (No 67) . Retrieved Oct 13, 2013, from Legal Information Institute : http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0392_0001_ZS.html
Sonneborn, L. (2003). Miranda V. Arizona: The Rights of the Accused. New York: he Rosen Publishing Group.
Streetlaw.org. (n.d.). Key Excerpts from the DIssenting Opinion . Retrieved Oct 13, 2013, from Landmark Cases of the U.S. Supreme Court : http://www.streetlaw.org/en/Page/469/Key_Excerpts_from_the_Dissenting_Opinion