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Miranda warnings are given because of a Supreme Court ruling

California residents who watch crime television shows or films likely know every word of the Miranda warning. This is the statement made by police officers advising suspects of their rights. The rights mentioned are provided by the U.S. Constitution's Fifth Amendment, but they are often referred to as Miranda warnings because of a landmark ruling the U.S. Supreme Court made in 1966.

The case involved an Arizona man whose last name was Miranda and who confessed to kidnapping and raping a woman after two grueling hours of police questioning. The justices ruled that the confession should be excluded because the interrogation was coercive and the man was not told that he had the right to remain silent and ask for an attorney. All law enforcement agencies now require their agents, officers or deputies to give a Miranda warning.

The Supreme Court ruling did not include specific wording that police departments should use, but it did state which rights must be included. Individuals detained and questioned by police must be told that they have the right to not answer any questions, that anything they do say could be used against them in court, that they have the right to speak with a lawyer, and that one may be provided for them if they lack the means to pay for legal representation.

When police officers fail to give suspects a Miranda warning, experienced criminal defense attorneys could seek to have the statements they made excluded. Attorneys may also call for evidence discovered as a result of the statements to be excluded. Attorneys could explain that Miranda warnings must be given when suspects are detained and questioned even if no arrest is made. This is because any statement made before suspects are advised of their rights is considered involuntary.

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