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What Is a Miranda Warning?

When a person commits a crime, he or she may be arrested by a law enforcement officer. Once the police officer begins to make the arrest, he or she provides the person with the Miranda Warning, a short recitation that is meant to inform the person being arrested of his or her rights.

The Miranda Warning originated from the US Supreme Court ruling on Ernesto Miranda’s case wherein the defendant was not well-informed of his rights and had his Fifth Amendment rights violated in the process. A court opinion given by Chief Justice Earl Warren indicating that Ernesto Miranda was indeed deprived of his Fifth Amendment rights and stipulated that any individual taken into custody by a law enforcement officer be informed of the Miranda Warning.

A typical reading of a Miranda Warning informs an individual taken into custody that he or she has the right to remain silent, and that anything said may be used against him or her in a court of law. The person is also informed that he or she is entitled to a lawyer, but if he or she cannot afford one, the court will then appoint a lawyer to represent him or her. The individual must understand these constitutional rights. If the person does not speak English, the rights must be translated into a language the person can understand in order to exercise full discretion of his or her rights.

The Miranda Warning is seen as an extension of the Fifth Amendment, the right to protect one’s self against self-incriminating answers and the right to refuse to testify in a court trial or to undergo cross-examination.

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