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Miranda Warnings

Miranda warnings ensure that individuals detained or questioned by police are aware of their rights. These warnings generally read, "You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can be used against you in a court of law, you have a right to the presence of an attorney, and if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you."

Read the scenario below and answer the following questions in words.

On August 24, 2005, Officer Larry Watson responded to a burglary call on Sunnyside Street in northern Phoenix, around 2:00 a.m. As the officer pulled up to the indicated location, he witnessed a man, dressed in dark clothes, running down the driveway into the street.

Officer Watson called for backup, initially following the suspect in his patrol car, and eventually abandoning the police cruiser to continue on foot. Approximately 100 yards into the chase, the man scaled a chain-link fence and landed on the other side. The officer followed suit.

The chase was now at a nearby high school. Running through the quad area, the man flung his right arm away from his body, what Officer Watson would later describe as "a throwing motion." A clink sound echoed a few yards away from the chase, followed by the sound of bouncing metal.

Officer Watson tracked the man down, preventing his escape. As the officer walked the defendant back to his cruiser, he asked if he had thrown a weapon. The suspect indicated he had thrown a knife. Walking back to the patrol car, Watson found the knife in question and some jewelry, which the victim would later identify as stolen. The officer handcuffed the suspect and placed him under arrest.

As they continued their walk back to the cruiser, the officer questioned the suspect about his possession of the jewelry and the recent burglary. The suspect remained silent.

Officer Watson then put the suspect in the back of his cruiser and drove to the stationhouse for further interrogation. There the suspect confessed to the burglary under questioning.

o When should the Miranda warnings be given and why?
o How might this situation not require Miranda warnings?
o Explain your reasoning.
o Reference a court case for each section to support your findings.

Any help will be much appreciated. Thank you.

Solution Preview

Interesting scenario!


1. When should the Miranda warnings be given and why?

All police need to legally arrest a person is "probable cause" -- an adequate reason based on facts and events to believe the person has committed a crime. Police are required to "Read him his (Miranda) rights," only before interrogating a suspect. http://usgovinfo.about.com/cs/mirandarights/a/miranda_2.htm

The Miranda Warning is a police warning which is given to criminal suspects who are in the custody of law enforcement in the United States before they can ask questions regarding what took place during the crime. The Miranda warnings were mandated by the 1966 United States Supreme Court decision in the case of Miranda v. Arizona as to protect a criminal suspect's Fifth Amendment right to help avoid self-incrimination during police interrogation. This was once referred to as undergoing the 'third degree.' http://www.mirandawarning.org/

Miranda rights are simply an extension of the Fifth Amendment which protects against coercive interrogations, so the same rule ...

Solution Summary

Based on the case scenario and by case examples, this solution explains when the Miranda warnings should be given and why and how this case might not require Miranda warnings.