You Have the Right to Remain Silent: Miranda Arrested 50 Years Ago Today

Today, we can recite from memory the warning law enforcement officers give suspects during an arrest, “you have the right to remain silent, anything you say or do may be used against you in a court of law…” You know the rest—whether from Law & Order marathons or personal experience (hopefully you were the police officer in that scenario). You probably know them as “Miranda rights,” but have you ever wondered when and why this warning became part of the law?

The arrest of Ernesto Miranda in Phoenix, on March 13, 1963—50 years ago today—emerged as a catalyst for change in law enforcement procedure. What are commonly known as “Miranda rights” were adopted into U.S. law following the 1966 Miranda v. Arizona Supreme Court decision, which found that the Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights of Ernesto Arturo Miranda had been violated during his arrest and trial.

2011.47.454. Collection of the
National Law Enforcement Museum, Washington, DC

The court held that a defendant “must be warned prior to any questioning that he has the right to remain silent, that anything he says can be used against him in a court of law, that he has the right to the presence of an attorney, and that if he cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed for him prior to any questioning if he so desires,” as this laminated wallet card reminds officers. The card was donated to the National Law Enforcement Museum by Donald “Keith” Johnson, a retired Lieutenant with the Missouri Highway Patrol.

Read more: Phoenix police mark 50 years since Miranda arrest (Associated Press via