Your Right to Remain Silent: Miranda v. Arizona

Summary

In 1966, the Supreme Court handed down a controversial 5-4 ruling in Miranda v. Arizona that dramatically changed criminal procedures throughout the country. For the first time in history, the Court linked the Fifth Amendment’s privilege against self-incrimination to the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee of a right to counsel and applied both to protect a suspect’s rights from the time of arrest through trial.

Within a year, every state had integrated specific guidelines given in the majority opinion into a series of questions or statements known as Miranda warnings. To this day, all police officers seeking evidence for a conviction must inform a custodial suspect of their “Miranda rights” before an interrogation by reading (or reciting) the Miranda warnings.

The process of “Mirandizing” is very well known, but it has changed over the years. Legal challenges made in the interest of liberty and security have brought about Court-approved modifications. Now, in the age of global terrorism, Miranda faces new issues. Are more changes ahead?

This lesson is based on the Annenberg Classroom video “The Right to Remain Silent: Miranda v. Arizona,” which explores the landmark Supreme Court case that made law enforcement the protectors of individual liberty where people are most vulnerable – in the interrogation room.

The estimated time for the lesson is three class periods.

Download the lesson plan