Study Guide

Ernesto Miranda in Miranda v. Arizona

By Supreme Court of the United States

Ernesto Miranda

Turns out committing a crime (or two, or five…) can make you famous.

Ernesto Miranda gave the Miranda rights (and Miranda Warning) their name. How? Because his court case was taken all the way to the Supreme Court.

Miranda's kind of a silent protagonist in his legal story. He doesn't stand up in court and give any fiery speeches or rouse up the crowds demanding justice. Instead, he's just happened to find himself in a particular time in American history. More and more rights were being given to those accused of crimes, and he was lucky enough to have some lawyers look out for him and notice that the police were screwing up.

So why was this Miranda guy in trouble in the first place? Well, he was accused of rape and kidnapping. He was picked up by the police in March of 1963, placed in a line-up, told that he was identified, and then interrogated.

Two hours later, he'd confessed.

Miranda didn't know he had the right to remain silent, and he didn't know that he could ask for a lawyer. Key words there: didn't know. In the United States, everyone can get a lawyer no matter what (thanks, Sixth Amendment), so when Miranda went to trial he was given a lawyer named Alvin Moore. Moore, and later another lawyer named John Flynn, took the case all the way to the Supreme Court, arguing that Miranda's confession should be thrown out because he wasn't made aware of his rights.

And the rest…is history.

Well, not really. The famous Miranda Warning is certainly history, and still exists today. But what happened to Ernesto? After the Supreme Court agreed that his confession couldn't be used in court, the state of Arizona gave him a second trial. Turns out that even without the confession, he was found guilty and sentenced to prison. After he got out of jail, he was killed in a bar fight, and his attacker was never found.

P.S. Get this: Miranda made some money on the side autographing police officers' Miranda Warning cards after he got out of jail. When he died, the police found some Miranda Warning cards on him.

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