State Bar notes 50 years of Miranda law; know your rights

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SALT LAKE CITY — Law Day, held annually on May 1, is a national day established by a Joint Resolution of Congress in 1961 to celebrate the rule of law. This year, the focus of Law Day is on the Miranda warnings law enforcement officers are required to give to suspects in police custody before interrogating them in order for t hose statements to be admissible evidence in court.

Miranda rights derive directly from the Constitution, and the 50th anniversary of Miranda v. Arizona is a good time to reflect on those rights.

Before Miranda, many individual rights were recognized by the U. S. Supreme Court based on the Sixth Amendment, which states that “the accused shall … have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.”

In 1966, the Court determined that “the right to have counsel present at the interrogation is indispensable to the protection of the Fifth Amendment privilege” to remain silent.

The iconic warning, crafted as a result of the Miranda decision, is repeated in countless movies and television shows. When we hear the beginning of the Miranda warnings, many of us can recite the rest by heart because the words are ingrained in our minds, much like the lyrics to a favorite song:

  1. You have the right to remain silent
  2. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law
  3. You have the right to talk to a lawyer and have the lawyer present with you while you are being questioned
  4. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed to represent you before any questioning if you wish
  5. You can decide at any time to exercise these rights and not answer any questions or make any statements
  6. Do you understand each of these rights as I have explained them to you?
  7. Having these rights in mind, do you wish to talk to us now?

Before Miranda warnings there were essentially two legal systems: one for those who were aware of their rights and invoked them, and one for those who were unaware of their rights and implicated themselves.

Predictions of “a serious problem in the enforcement of our criminal law will occur” (statement made at oral arguments) were unfounded. The Court correctly predicted that if “counsel is present when statements are taken from an individual during interrogation (it) enhances the integrity of the fact-finding processes.”

There is still work to be done to create a level playing field in our justice system. Learn more about Miranda and celebrate your rights on Law Day by visiting the Utah State Bar’s website.

About the Utah State Bar

The Utah State Bar was established in 1931 and regulates the practice of law under the authority of the Utah Supreme Court. The 11,500 lawyers of the Bar serve the public and legal profession with excellence, civility, and integrity, according to its news release. They envision a just legal system that is understood, valued, and accessible to all.


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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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  • ladybugavenger May 1, 2016 at 5:23 pm

    Hey, I’m back in town. It’s like I wasn’t even gone. RIP momma.

    Know your rights! If you don’t them then people will take advantage of them. Everyday is a day we learn. Have courage! Be strong! The world is corrupt.

  • .... May 1, 2016 at 9:50 pm

    Go back on vacation

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