Miranda vs. the State of Arizona Such cases as Gideon v. Wainwright (1963) and Miranda v. Arizona (1966) considered the rights of defendants in criminal cases and initiated a continuing debate on the rights of the individual in relation to the necessary powers of the government. The Miranda decision declared incriminating statements by a prisoner to be inadmissible as evidence when the prisoner had not been warned of his or her rights. In Harris v.
New York (1971), however, the Court ruled that such evidence could be used by a prosecutor when a defendant chooses to testify. In Ginsberg v. New York (1968) and several other cases involving publications of an erotic nature, the Court sought to provide a legal definition of obscenity and to determine the role of moral censorship in society. In another 1968 decision the Court upheld the right of the police to stop and search suspect persons for weapons. Until Miranda, few people thought that it violated a suspects constitutional rights for the police to question the alleged without an attorney.
In fact, voluntary confessions, or self-incriminating facts, given by defendants were essential to a large percentage of convictions. The effect of Miranda, dried up all voluntary confessions by immediately introducing defense attorneys into police investigation. Here are some facts from before and after Miranda: ? In Philadelphia, before Miranda, 45 percent of all criminal suspects confessed to police officers, but afterward that figure dropped down to 20 percent. ? In New York City, the confession rate fell from 49 percent to 15 percent. ? In Pittsburgh, the confession rate among suspected robbers and murderers fell from 60 percent to 30 percent.
Other cities reported similar declines, and researchers estimate that Miranda has reduced the nationwide confession rate by 16 percent. This is confirmed by comparing confessions in the United States with those in countries that use other approaches to regulating police questioning. ? In the U.S., police obtain confessions in perhaps 40 percent of all cases. ? However, in the United Kingdom, where advice of rights is limited, confession rates in the 1970s and 1980s were an estimated 61 percent to 85 percent. ? Even today in the U.S., confessions or other self-incriminating statements are crucial to convictions in about 24 percent of all criminal cases. In my opinion, the Miranda case set forth standards that greatly improved the treatment of the alleged and arrested. It gave them greater utilization of their civil rights, and a chance to prove themselves innocent in a court of law in the presence of an attorney.