Miranda v. State

Decision Date10 October 1966
Docket NumberNo. 759,No. 760,No. 584,No. 761,759,760,761,584
Citation86 S.Ct. 1602,384 U.S. 436,36 O.O.2d 237,10 Ohio Misc. 9,16 L.Ed.2d 694,10 A.L.R.3d 974
PartiesErnesto A. MIRANDA, Petitioner, v. STATE OF ARIZONA. Michael VIGNERA, Petitioner, v. STATE OF NEW YORK. Carl Calvin WESTOVER, Petitioner, v. UNITED STATES. STATE OF CALIFORNIA, Petitioner, v. Roy Allen STEWART.
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

Attorneys and Law Firms

No. 759:

John J. Flynn, Phoenix, Ariz., for petitioner.

Gary K. Nelson, Phoenix, Ariz., for respondent.

Telford Taylor, New York City, for State of New York, as amicus curiae, by special leave of Court. (Also in Nos. 584, 760, 761 and 762)

Duane R. Nedrud, for National District Attorneys Ass'n, as amicus curiae, by special leave of Court. (Also in Nos. 760, 762 and 584)

No. 760:

Victor M. Earle, III, New York City, for petitioner.

William I. Siegel, Brooklyn, for respondent.

No. 761:

F. Conger Fawcett, San Francisco, Cal., for petitioner.

Sol. Gen. Thurgood Marshall, for respondent.

No. 584:

Gorden Ringer, Los Angeles, Cal., for petitioner.

William A. Norris, Los Angeles, Cal., for respondent.

Mr. Chief Justice WARREN delivered the opinion of the Court.

The cases before us raise questions which go to the roots of our concepts of American criminal jurisprudence: the restraints society must observe consistent with the Federal Constitution in prosecuting individuals for crime. More specifically, we deal with the admissibility of statements obtained from an individual who is subjected to custodial police interrogation and the necessity for procedures which assure that the individual is accorded his privilege under the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution not to be compelled to incriminate himself.

We dealt with certain phases of this problem recently inEscobedo v. State of Illinois, 378 U.S. 478, 84 S.Ct. 1758, 12 L.Ed.2d 977 (1964). There, as in the four cases before us, law enforcement officials took the defendant into custody and interrogated him in a police station for the purpose of obtaining a confession. The police did not effectively advise him of his right to remain silent or of his right to consult with his attorney. Rather, they confronted him with an alleged accomplice who accused him of having perpetrated a murder. When the defendant denied the accusation and said 'I didn't shoot Manuel, you did it,' they handcuffed him and took him to an interrogation room. There, while handcuffed and standing, he was questioned for four hours until he confessed. During this interrogation, the police denied his request to speak to his attorney, and they prevented his retained attorney, who had come to the police station, from consulting with him. At his trial, the State, over his objection, introduced the confession against him. We held that the statements thus made were constitutionally inadmissible.

This case has been the subject of judicial interpretation and spirited legal debate since it was decided two years ago. Both state and federal courts, in assessing its implications, have arrived at varying conclusions. 1 A wealth of scholarly material has been written tracing its ramifications and underpinnings.2 Police and prosecutorhave speculated on its range and desirability.3 We granted certiorari in these cases, 382 U.S. 924, 925, 937, 86 S.Ct. 318, 320, 395, 15 L.Ed.2d 338, 339, 348, in order further to explore some facets of the problems, thus exposed, of applying the privilege against self-incrimination to in-custody interrogation, and to giveconcrete constitutional guidelines for law enforcement agencies and courts to follow.

We start here, as we did in Escobedo, with the premise that our holding is not an innovation in our jurisprudence, but is an application of principles long recognized and applied in other settings. We have undertaken a thorough re-examination of the Escobedo decision and the principles it announced, and we reaffirm it. That case was but an explication of basic rights that are enshrined in our Constitution—that 'No person * * * shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself,' and that 'the accused shall * * * have the Assistance of Counsel'—rights which were put in jeopardy in that case through official overbearing. These precious rights were fixed in our Constitution only after centuries of persecution and struggle. And in the words of Chief Justice Marshall, they were secured 'for ages to come, and * * * designed to approach immortality as nearly as human institutions can approach it,' Cohens v. Commonwealth of Virginia, 6 Wheat. 264, 387, 5 L.Ed. 257 (1821).

Over 70 years ago, our predecessors on this Court eloquently stated:

'The maxim 'Nemo tenetur seipsum accusare,' had its origin in a protest against the inquisitorial and manifestly unjust methods of interrogating accused persons, which (have) long obtained in the continental system, and, until the expulsion of the Stuarts from the British throne in 1688, and the erection of additional barriers for the protection of the people against the exercise of arbitrary power, (were) not uncommon even in England. While the admissions or confessions of the prisoner, when voluntarily and freely made, have always ranked high in the scale of incriminating evidence, if an accused person be asked to explain his apparent connection with a crime under investigation, the ease with which thequestions put to him may assume an inquisitorial character, the temptation to press the witness unduly, to browbeat him if he be timid or reluctant, to push him into a corner, and to entrap him into fatal contradictions, which is so painfully evident in many of the earlier state trials, notably in those of Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, and Udal, the Puritan minister, made the system so odious as to give rise to a demand for its total abolition. The change in the English criminal procedure in that particular seems to be founded upon no statute and no judicial opinion, but upon a general and silent acquiescence of the courts in a popular demand. But, however adopted, it has become firmly embedded in English, as well as in American jurisprudence. So deeply did the iniquities of the ancient system impress themselves upon the minds of the American colonists that the States, with one accord, made a denial of the right to question an accused person a part of their fundamental law, so that a maxim, which in England was a mere rule of evidence, became clothed in this country with the impregnability of a constitutional enactment.' Brown v. Walker, 161 U.S. 591, 596—597, 16 S.Ct. 644, 646, 40 L.Ed. 819 (1896).

In stating the obligation of the judiciary to apply these constitutional rights, this Court declared in Weems v. United States, 217 U.S. 349, 373, 30 S.Ct. 544, 551, 54 L.Ed. 793 (1910):

'* * * our contemplation cannot be only of what has been, but of what may be. Under any other rule a constitution would indeed be as easy of application as it would be deficient in efficacy and power. Its general principles would have little value, and be convertedby precedent into impotent and lifeless formulas. Rights declared in words might be lost in reality. And this has been recognized. Themeaning and vitality of the Constitution have developed against narrow and restrictive construction.'

This was the spirit in which we delineated, in meaningful language, the manner in which the constitutional rights of the individual could be enforced against overzealous police practices. It was necessary in Escobedo, as here, to insure that what was proclaimed in the Constitution had not become but a 'form of words,' Silverthorn Lumber Co. v. United States, 251 U.S. 385, 392, 40 S.Ct. 182, 64 L.Ed. 319 (1920), in the hands of government officials. And it is in this spirit, consistent with our role as judges, that we adhere to the principles of Escobedo today.

Our holding will be spelled out with some specificity in the pages which follow but briefly stated it is this: the prosecution may not use statements, whether exculpatory or inculpatory, stemming from custodial interrogation of the defendant unless it demonstrates the use of procedural safeguards effective to secure the privilege against self-incrimination. By custodial interrogation, we mean questioning initiated by law enforcement officers after a person has been taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way. 4 As for the procedural safeguards to be employed, unless other fully effective means are devised to inform accused persons of their right of silence and to assure a continuous opportunity to exercise it, the following measures are required. Prior to any questioning, the person must be warned that he has a right to remain silent, that any statement he does make may be used as evidence against him, and that he has a right to the presence of an attorney, either retained or appointed. The defendant may waive effectuation of these rights, provided the waiver is made voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently. If, however, he indicates in any manner and at any stage of theprocess that he wishes to consult with an attorney before speaking there can be no questioning. Likewise, if the individual is alone and indicates in any manner that he does not wish to be interrogated, the police may not question him. The mere fact that he may have answered some questions or volunteered some statements on his own does not deprive him of the right to refrain from answering any further inquiries until he has consulted with an attorney and thereafter consents to be questioned.


The constitutional issue we decide in each of these cases is the admissibility of statements obtained from a defendant questioned while in custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way. In each, the defendant was questioned by police officers, detectives, or a prosecuting attorney in a room in which he was cut off...

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