Intimidating or coercive methods of police interrogation were once commonly referred to as undergoing the ‘third degree.’ Today, as protection against any possibility of police intimidation, we have the Miranda Warning.
On June 13, 1966, the outcome of Miranda v. Arizona provided that suspects must be informed of their specific legal rights when they are placed under arrest. This decision was based on a case in which a defendant, Ernesto Miranda, was accused of robbery, kidnapping, and rape. During police interrogation, he confessed to the crimes.
The conviction was overturned due to allegedly intimidating police interrogation methods. After a retrial that included witnesses and other evidence, Miranda was again convicted. His trial was, however, then assured of being fair, and the original conviction was reasonably upheld without question.
In 1964 the results of another trial, Escobedo v. Illinois, additionally provided that a suspect has the right to counsel being present during police questioning or to consult with an attorney before being questioned by police if the police intend to use the answers against the suspect at a trial, or if the person being questioned is being detained and questioned against their will.
In 1968 the finalized text for the Miranda Warning was provided by California deputy attorney general Doris Maier and district attorney Harold Berliner.
Prior to the institution of the Miranda Warning, confessions need only be voluntary on the part of the suspect. This created a difficult situation for police, who were then often faced with evidence at trial that the person was not of sound mind or were under circumstantial duress when they gave their confession.
The Miranda Warning protects an individual’s rights by explaining their options clearly and upholds police authority when they properly read the Miranda Warning and get a clear, intelligent answer that the suspect understands his or her rights as they have been explained. The Miranda Warning is a legal necessity throughout the United States, and varies only slightly in its wording in different states.