Virtually every adult in the United States is familiar with their Miranda rights. Our culture is obsessed with crime, we love movies and television shows about law enforcement and shady organizations which spar against federal agents.
As a result, we have all become familiar with variations of the lines “you have the right to remain silent, anything you say can – and will – be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, once will be provided to you at no cost.”
In America, before any law enforcement officer can conduct a custodial interrogation of a suspect, whether they're under arrest or not, they are required to inform that individual of these rights and secure a voluntary waiver, indicating that the individual understands his or her rights and is willing to speak to law enforcement under the current conditions.
But have you ever stopped to think about why law enforcement is required to affirmatively tell you about the rights you have? It's actually quite counter-intuitive. The police or the FBI is required to tell you that you can refuse to answer any questions before they are permitted to ask you anything. Shouldn't it be an individual's responsibility to know, and assert, their own rights?
In this episode, we look at the origins of the requirement that law enforcement inform suspects and defendants of their rights to remain silent and right to counsel. Listen to the story of Ernesto Miranda, who was arrested for kidnapping and rape, voluntary answered questions and ended up confessing without ever knowing that the had the right to refuse to answer or the right to have a lawyer there with him. His appeal became the catalyst for one of the most transformative Supreme Court opinions of all time.
With the episode, the goal is to provide some insights into the origins of one of the most sacred and cherished rights for American criminal law. And show how close it was to never existing.