Miranda Rights Affect On Guilty Confessions

Question: Does reading Miranda rights to people who are guilty prevent police from getting a confession? Does it make it impossible to get a conviction?

Answer: It’s certainly an argument that a lot of people—and especially a lot of pro law and order advocates have made over time—is that it encourages people, it encourages suspects to invoke their rights not to speak to the police, not to make confessions, not to admit to criminal conduct, and as a result causes the police to collect less evidence, to have less strong cases and many times allows guilty people to essentially avoid convictions and get away with crimes. That’s certainly an argument that is frequently made by people. But on the other hand, as we’ve talked about, there is a great deal of improper police interrogation techniques that make it such that it’s rarely in a person’s interest—whether they’re guilty or innocent—to waive their rights and to speak to the police without an attorney. And these are deeply imbedded constitutional rights: the right against self incrimination, the right to counsel that we hold dear that we think apply to all of us and are not really meaningful if people don’t understand those rights and are not in a position to intelligently exercise them.

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