Do the Miranda Rights Protect the Guilty?

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Do the Miranda Rights Protect the Guilty?

The Miranda warning requires officers to inform any suspect about their rights while making an arrest before questioning them. The Miranda warning was passed in 1966, and it came into force as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court's Miranda vs. Arizona decision (Duke). The Act comprises three vital precepts with which officers are expected to comply. Hereby, it requires that those who are arrested are verbally informed of three concepts. The first concept is that they are not compelled to speak. The second concept is that those who are arrested are entitled to legal representation, while the last one is that the convict is given a court-appointed attorney in case they decide not to hire any by themselves (Pennock and Chapman 96). The main objective of the warning is to uphold the suspect’s Fifth Amendment right to decline to answer self-incriminating questions. The Miranda rights have been subject to a critical analysis triggering the emergence of a heated debate regarding the beneficiaries of the warning. Generally, the rights are aimed at making people aware of their rights for their own good, while not giving them a way to flout the system. The paper highlights the pros and cons of the Miranda warning after giving its history. Therefore, the paper seeks to justify the notion that Miranda rights neither seek to help the convict nor the victim evade conviction.

Currently, the Act is regarded as a standard police procedure with which every police officer has to comply. According to the Act, police officers are required to state to the defendant, “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can, and will, be used against you in court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford one, one will be appointed to you.” The Miranda warning was introduced in March 1963 after the police were told by an 18-year-old Phoenix woman that she was a victim of abduction and rape (Duke). The woman’s story was questioned by detectives and she was required to undergo a polygraph test the results of which were not conclusive. While searching for the owner of the number plate of the car that resembled that of the woman’s attacker, detectives detained Ernesto Miranda. The victim failed to identify Miranda in an identification parade, but Miranda was taken to the police custody and subject to an interrogation. There is considerable dispute regarding the events that followed the interrogation, but later Miranda retracted the confession which he made during the procedure. The reason is that Miranda was not aware that he was not obliged to say anything (Pennock and Chapman 96).

The short confession that the police recorded was different from the victim’s narration regarding the crime. Miranda got an appointed defense attorney who failed to invite any witness to the court to prove Miranda’s innocence. Miranda’s appeal was analyzed by the American Civil Liberties Union grounded on the claim that the confession was coerced and false. As a result, this conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court but later retried and convicted in 1966, although there was insufficient evidence against him. The case against Miranda led to the warning that makes it compulsory for everyone to be informed of their rights during arrest (Pennock and Chapman 76).

There is a view that the Miranda rights protect either the innocent person or the guilty one. The debate is unlikely to come to an end soon due to the fact that there are dissimilar opinions regarding the advantages and disadvantages of the warning. Those who believe that the Miranda rights protect the victim argue that its implementation gives them an opportunity to avoid judgments grounded on uninformed verbal acts and that the right to remain silent and to an attorney gives an opportunity for fair trial (Pennock and Chapman 86). On the other hand, those who argue that the Miranda warning protects the convict based their reasoning on several notions. Among the leading ideas is that the rights limit the opportunity of victims to present witnesses and that the defendants are likely to avoid trial due to lack of evidence. The effectiveness of the warning in the judicial system can be well understood when it is exposed to critical analysis. Thus, it is vital to analyze pros and cons of the rights.

Although the Miranda warning has undergone several growing pains, it remains in full effect. Those who support it base their arguments on a number of advantages. Apparently, they argue that there is no justification that it is wrong to inform someone. The reason is that although several people may have committed various crimes, they have a right to be given some information before they are taken into custody (Thaman 94). The view is that the information that is given to those who are arrested should be regarded as helpful. The advocacy for the warning is also backed by the fact that not enough evidence is available to justify that a considerable number of guilty people are freed due to the Miranda rights. As opposed to the expectation, it is believed that under arrest, a majority of people do not keep silent and hardly seek for a lawyer (Pennock and Chapman 96).

The warning is also believed to be effective in protecting equally both the victim and the convict so that it helps to insure justice for all. It is believed that all people should be treated with respect and that the Miranda rights help to insure that all members of the society are treated with the best possible delicacy. It is worth noting that when people are treated with respect, it should not be assumed that the convicts are taking advantage of such fair treatment. Instead, the positive implications of fairness and value to all should override.

There was a case that involved an inmate Randall Fields who was put in jail in Michigan and accused of being disorderly. After he was detained, the inmate was subject to a seven-hour interrogation by armed deputies. During the interrogation, the deputies used a sharp tone and profanity. After the questioning, the inmate was told that he could return to the cell without being given Miranda warning. In this case, the main aspects that brought controversy are the length of questioning and the tone that was used. Thus, the factors revealed the fact that the Miranda warning had been contravened. Justice Ginsburg who was listening to the case mentioned that it is essential for interrogators to make a statement like “You are free to terminate this interrogation and return to your cell” in compliance with the Miranda rights (Liptak). Thus, this case indicates the way the Miranda warning helps to insure that justice prevails among all people.

Despite the advantages of the warning that are cited as reasons for advocating for its continued implementation, the Miranda rights have a number of limitations. First, those who oppose the warning argue that its implementation comes with some idealistic impulse that protects individuals from overbearing state authority that has made some people fail to take responsibility for their criminal activities. Apparently, this is one of the arguments that give those who believe the warning protects the defendant as they argue that policies should be put in place to insure that they take full responsibility for their acts (Prentzas 54).

In one case, a petitioner named Dickerson was indicted for bank robbery, conspiracy to commit bank robbery, and use of a firearm in the process of engaging in the crime. In fact, all the acts violated the provisions of Title 18 of the United States Code. Dickerson went to court prior to his trial in order to suppress his earlier statement that he made at a Federal Bureau of Investigation field office. Dickerson claimed that he was not given the Miranda warning before he was interrogated. In the case, the decision was overruled by the District Court with the government taking an interlocutory appeal to the Court of Appeal for the Fourth Circuit. The District Court’s conclusion was agreed taking into account the argument that the petitioner was not given the Miranda warnings. Therefore, this is one of the cases that are used to argue that the warning can protect the defendant (Findlaw).

The perception that the Miranda rights protect the convict is also backed by the opinion that it prevents them from confessing their guilt. On the contrary, those who are opposed to the warning suggest that the criminal justice system can only be strengthened if rules are fair for both suspects and victims so that honesty is insured in criminal trials. With the implementation of the Miranda rights, some argue that criminal trials are often unfair as the jury does not get an opportunity to hear truthful evidence. The arguments against the warning are founded on the idea that when a society denies suspects the freedom to make confessions, such society loses its morals and is perceived as imprudent while discouraging the confessions that suspects voluntarily give (Prentzas 83).

In general, the Miranda rights are essential in protecting criminals so that they are not coerced or subject to torture in order to make confessions. It is necessary to understand that every human gets horrified by a possibility that they may be exposed to punishment (Prentzas 75). It is crucial to avoid coercing people into making confessions. The reason is that the confessions that were made forcefully have led to several instances when they were ruled inadmissible. The law provides an opportunity for proper investigations to be conducted so that prosecutors can give fair judgments grounded on well-founded evidence. When investigators are given adequate time to conduct their investigations, there are chances that the investigations will point at actual facts (Tomkovicz 97).

In conclusion, it is clear that the debate about the beneficiaries of the Miranda warning is not likely to end soon. However, it should be understood that the law primarily intends to make people aware of their rights and that it does not seek to give defendants the possibility to break the system. Although some people must have taken advantage of law and some are likely to do the same in the future, the Miranda warning has effectively helped to plug loopholes in the arrest process. A very thin line exists between the attempts to provide the safest legal system and get challenged by the fact that criminals may be left unpunished to walk the streets. It is vital to recognize the fact that rights at times help some people avoid self-incrimination during interrogation. However, Miranda warning keeps a balance, and it neither protects the defendant nor the victim.