Monday, October 17, 2005

You have the right to remain silent...

We've all heard those words before. Most of us thankfully, have only heard them watching TV. They're part of the Miranda Warning, which every prisoner must understand before questioning. That means the cops who initially put the stainless steel bracelets on you don't have to give you your rights. They can, and a lot of police departments do this, but it's not required unless they start questioning you. My department didn't so this. Also, people mistakenly refer to it as the "Miranda Act", and that's a misnomer. It was never an "Act" just a ruling by the Supreme Court that mandates all prisoners must be informed of their legal rights before questioning.

Miranda Warning

"You have the right to remain silent. If you give up that right, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney and to have an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided to you at no cost. During any questioning, you may decide at any time to exercise these rights, not answer any questions or make any statements at that time"

I'd get this all the time, so much in fact that I really got sick of trying to explain it to the mental midgets I was arresting.

I'd put the cuffs on, and the first thing I'd here...

"Hey, you gotta read Mr my rights!"

"No I don't."

"Yeah you do, man! I'll sue!"

"Fine. Go ahead and sue me..."

"You gotta read me my rights, pig!"

"Ok, you have the right to remain silent, now shut the fuck up!"

What most of these boneheads don't realize is that the Miranda Warning is only used when being questioned.

"Am I asking you any questions?"

"No."

"Well then I don't have to read you your rights!"

Too much TV... CHiPs and TJ Hooker fucked it up in the 70's & 80's I think.

Miranda in a nutshell:

Miranda vs. Arizona

The case that brought about the eventual Miranda rights ruling, involved Ernesto Miranda of Phoenix, Arizona. In 1963, Miranda was arrested for the armed robbery of a bank worker. While in custody of police, Miranda, who had a record for armed robbery, attempted rape, assault and burglary,signed a written confession to the armed robbery. He also confessed to kidnapping and raping an 18-year-old girl 11 days prior to the robbery. Miranda was convicted of the armed robbery, but his attorneys appealed the case on the grounds that Miranda did not understand that he had the right against self-incrimination.

Pretty simple. But there's an ironic twist to this story...

When the Supreme Court made its Miranda ruling in 1966, Ernesto Miranda's conviction was overturned. Prosecutors later retried the case, using evidence other than his confession, and he was convicted again. Miranda served 11 years in prison and was paroled in 1972. At age 34, Ernesto Miranda was stabbed and killed in a 1976 bar fight. A suspect was arrested in Miranda's stabbing, but exercised his right to remain silent. He was released without being charged. I love irony.

So, if you are ever arrested, and I really hope none of you are, they don't have to read you your rights until they begin questioning you...

here's a version we used to bandy about the department, and one guy on my squad actually went out and had it printed up on business cards...

Revised Miranda Warning

You have the right to remain silent. You also have the right to swing first. If you should choose the right to swing first, any move you make can and will be used as an excuse to beat the living shit out of you.

You have the right to have a doctor and priest, rabbi, imam or shaman present, along with transport to the closest medical facility. If you cannot afford or have no medical insurance, this will be provided for you.

Do you understand your rights as explained, Asshole?

Oh, and Wasn't Miranda such a swell guy, too? A real pillar of the community if you ask me.

Copyright 2005 Thomas J Wolfenden

6 comments:

Becky said...

I love the revised version. They need that over on Law and Order. ;)

honkeie2 said...

I think that was the version they used back in good old night stick and fire hose days of the 50s. Back when 'beat down' had a bit more meat to it than now lol.

Lindsey said...

In every episode of Law and Order they show the warning being read when the dude is arrested....too complicated...

Ranger Tom said...

Becky: I'm sure your brother has heard of it, and I'd probably be right in guessing he's got a copy somewhere if not in his wallet...

Honkeie: 50's? Hell, try the 70's and into the 80's... I'm not saying it's right or condoning it, but it was still going on when I went on the job in 1988...

Linny: It can be. The cops can read them at the time of arrest, all I was pointing out was that they don't have to, until the questioning starts.

Cheryl said...

Yes but being the pillar that he was, look what happened to him. Karma's a bitch.

Bev said...

Wow, I've learned so much from reading this. Thanks.