Protecting the Rights of the Accused

Ernesto was born in Arizona in 1941. When his mother died and his father remarried, his problems with the law began. In 8th grade, he was convicted of burglary and sent to a reform school. He was convicted again after only one month out of reform school.

After getting out of reform school a second time, he moved to Los Angeles. He was in trouble again and sent back to Arizona. Drifting throughout the south, he was in and out of jail.

For a couple of years, he stayed out of trouble and had a job. Then Ernesto was confronted by the police and voluntarily went to the police station to participate in a lineup. He was accused of kidnapping and rape.

Ernesto was told by the police that he had been identified. After two hours with the police, Ernesto was arrested. He wrote a confession. Ernesto had no attorney advising him.

When his trial was held, his attorney objected to the confession being entered as evidence. He was overruled. Ernesto was convicted and given a sentence of 20-30 years for both the rape and kidnapping charges.

Ernesto’s attorney was replaced and an appeal was filed with the Arizona Supreme Court but with no success. Then Ernesto’s case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. In a 5-4 discussion, the Supreme Court ruled that a person in custody must be informed of their 5th and 6th Amendment rights.

Ernesto Miranda’s conviction was overturned. Police subsequently were required to give those in custody a warning, commonly referred to as a Miranda warning. Ernesto was retried on the charges without the confession being used in court. He was again found guilty.

Ernesto was in and out of jail after being released on the kidnapping/rape convictions. After his release, Ernesto was involved in a bar fight and stabbed to death. He was 34 years old.

Ernesto’s tragic life was the beginning of the protection of rights of those who have been accused of a crime.

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You have the right to remain silent.  If you give up the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney and to have an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided to you at no cost. During any questioning, you may decide at any time to exercise these rights, not answer any questions or make any statements. Do you understand these rights as I have read them to you? –
Miranda Warning

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