Mrs. Behm Name:_______________________ American Government

Mrs. Behm
American Government
Miranda v. Arizona (1966)
The Bill of Rights states that every citizen accused of a crime has the right to the help of
a lawyer. It also states that no one accused of a crime can be forced to give testimony against
himself. How exactly should these rights be applied in actual cases? At what point in the
investigation or trial does a person get a lawyer? Is a confession in a police station considered to
be testifying against oneself? Is it your responsibility to know your rights or do the police have
to explain them to you?
These were the questions put forth in the case Miranda v. Arizona, heard by the Supreme
Court in 1966. Ernesto Miranda was arrested and taken to the police station for questioning. He
was suspected of raping an 18-year old girl. Miranda never asked to have his lawyer present (he
may not even have known he was entitled to one). He also did not refuse to answer any of the
police's questions. In the course of the police's questioning, Miranda admitted his guilt. At his
trial in an Arizona state court, he was found guilty based on his confession. Miranda appealed
this decision and the case was eventually heard by the Supreme Court. Miranda claimed that
since he did not know he was entitled to a lawyer and that he did not have to answer any
questions, his Constitutional rights had been violated. He claimed it was the police's
responsibility to tell him about these rights. The police claimed that they did not prevent him
from getting a lawyer and they did not force him to answer any questions, so they did not violate
Miranda's rights.
Directions: Take a moment to answer the following questions. Use the back if you need more
1. What court had original jurisdiction in this case?
2. List, in order, the courts that this case probably went through on its way to the U.S. Supreme
3. What type of jurisdiction was the Supreme Court using when it heard this case?
4. Briefly summarize the argument from Miranda’s side (how were his Constitutional rights
5. Now briefly summarize the argument from the opposite side (how can it be said that what the
police did was indeed Constitutional).
6. Which side in this case do you think was right? Why
7. What was the majority opinion in this case? (Use the Internet to find out.)