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Ignorance of the law is no excuse, except the one time is was a big one. Everyone who has watched any cop drama on television knows the Miranda law by heart.
- 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 and attorney, one will be appointed for you.
These rights are guaranteed to citizens by the U.S. Constitution under the fifth (5th) amendment. And since a historic 1966 Supreme Court decision, they must be told to all suspects by the police at the time they are in custody and/or being questioned.
Who is Miranda and why did this come up in the first place. Miranda is really shorthand for the Supreme Court case this is based on, Miranda vs. Arizona. In that case the court found the suspect, Mr. Ernesto Miranda, was unlawfully denied his right to remain silent and right to representation by an attorney by not being informed of those rights by the police. Therefore any information or confession he gave was inadmissible in court.
This landmark decision had a far-reaching impact across the country as every criminal prosecution could have crucial evidence tossed out if the suspect had not been informed of his rights before police interrogation.
Today Miranda is known by virtually everyone and is standard practice for all law enforcement agents.