Search and Seizure
Arrest And Miranda
Under the Fourth Amendment, a seizure refers to the collection of evidence by law enforcement officials and to the arrest of persons. An arrest occurs when a police officer takes a person against his or her will for questioning or criminal prosecution. The general rule is that to make an arrest, the police must obtain an arrest warrant. However, if an officer has probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed and there is no time to obtain a warrant, the officer may make a warrantless arrest. Also, an officer may make a warrantless arrest of persons who commit a crime in the officer's presence. An invalid arrest is not generally a defense to prosecution. However, if an arrest is unsupported by probable cause, evidence obtained pursuant to the invalid arrest may be excluded from trial.
When an arrest is made, the arresting officer must read the Miranda warnings to the arrestee. The Miranda warnings apprise an arrestee of the right to obtain counsel and the right to remain silent. If these warnings are not read to an arrestee as soon as he or she is taken into custody, any statements the arrestee makes after the arrest may be excluded from trial.
Legal commentators have criticized Miranda and its subsequent line of decisions, stating that criminal suspects seldom truly understand the meaning or importance of the rights recited to them. Studies have indicated that the Miranda decision has had little effect on the numbers of confessions and requests for lawyers made by suspects in custody. Moreover, critics of Miranda cite concerns that the police may fabricate waivers, since a suspect's waiver of Miranda rights need not be recorded or made to a neutral party. Defenders of Miranda argue that it protects criminal suspects and reduces needless litigation by providing the police with concrete guidelines for permissible interrogation.
In 1999 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit fueled long-standing speculation that Miranda would be overruled when it held that the admissibility of confessions in federal court is governed not by Miranda, but by a federal statute enacted two years after Miranda. The statute, 18 U.S.C.A. § 3501, provides that a confession is admissible if voluntarily given. Congress enacted the statute to overturn Miranda, the Fourth Circuit said, and Congress had the authority to do so pursuant to its authority to overrule judicially created RULES OF EVIDENCE that are not mandated by the Constitution. U.S. v. Dickerson, 166 F.3d 667 (4th Cir. 1999).
The U.S. Supreme Court reversed. In an opinion authored by Chief Justice WILLIAM REHNQUIST, the Court said that, whether or not it agreed with Miranda, the principles of STARE DECISIS weighed heavily against overruling it. While the Supreme Court has overruled its precedents when subsequent cases have undermined their doctrinal underpinnings, that has not happened to the Miranda decision, which the Court said "has become embedded in routine police practice to the point where the warnings have become part of our national culture." Although the Court acknowledged that a few guilty defendants may sometimes go free as the result of the application of the Miranda rule, "experience suggests that the totality-of-the-circumstances test [that] § 3501 seeks to revive is more difficult than Miranda for law enforcement officers to conform to and for courts to apply in a consistent manner." Dickerson v. United States, 530 U.S. 428, 120 S. Ct. 2326, 147 L. Ed. 2d 405 (2000).
- Search and Seizure - The Search Warrant Requirement
- Search and Seizure - Probable Cause And Reasonable Suspicion
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