You Have the Right to Answer These Trivia Questions

On June 13, 1966, the United States Supreme Court handed down its decision in the case of Miranda v. Arizona.  To mark this momentous ruling, we've put together a few trivia questions to see how much you know about the law of the land.


What are Miranda Rights? # If you ever get arrested, you have a man named Ernesto Miranda to thank for being informed of your rights. The case of Miranda v. Arizona resulted in a court decision that interrogation of a crime suspect by law enforcement cannot be performed until the suspect is read his/her rights. Pretty much everyone knows what they are because of television shows and the movies. “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 one, one will be appointed to you.” If a suspect is questioned without receiving the Miranda rights statement from a law enforcement official, the information that is received from that person is inadmissible in court and cannot be used as evidence.

Why Were Miranda Rights Established? # The case of Miranda v. Arizona had to go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court before those were arrested were informed of their rights. It all goes back to 1963 and a case against Ernesto Miranda, who was suspected of having kidnapped and raped a mentally disabled 19-year-old woman, after driving her into the desert. Following several hours of interrogation, Miranda confessed and signed a statement admitting to the crime, even though the girl’s testimony was the only evidence against him.

Miranda’s lawyer objected to the written confession during the trial, saying that Miranda did not know his rights and that he was not required to say anything without an attorney and that anything he did say was admissible as evidence. Miranda’s lawyer called no witnesses to the stand to testify on his behalf. However, the judge overruled the lawyer’s objection. Miranda was subsequently convicted of kidnapping and rape. He received a sentence of 20 to 30 years for each charge, to be served concurrently.


What Did the American Civil Liberties Union do? A legal precedent had been set by the case Escobedo v. Illinois in 1964. In this case, it was established that suspects of a crime not only had the right to a lawyer during trial but also during interrogation by law enforcement officials. Attorneys with the Arizona ACLU took up the case of Ernesto Miranda and arranged with a Phoenix law firm to argue his case in front of the Supreme Court pro bono. Their argument was Miranda was coerced into a false confession.

They also argued that the case violated his Sixth and Fifth Amendment rights, his right to counsel and right to not incriminate himself. Although Miranda had lost the case presented by his attorney before the Arizona Supreme Court, his conviction was overturned in the U.S. Supreme Court by a vote of five to four.

What Happened to Ernesto Miranda Afterward? Miranda was tried again in Arizona in early 1967 and convicted, primarily based on the testimony of his former common-law wife, Twila Hoffman. He was incarcerated at Arizona State Prison until his parole in 1975. After going to a Phoenix bar in January 1976, he was involved in a bar fight where he was stabbed twice, once in the chest and again in the stomach.

He died in the ambulance that was rushing him to Good Samaritan Hospital. Although police searched for the man who stabbed Miranda, when they went to the hotel he was staying in, it was discovered that he had checked out. The police assumed that he had fled.

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