VOA Special English
What Happens If You Are Arrested in the US


    If you have ever watched an American crime show, you know about this Supreme Court case. Listen to what the police officer says.

    “You do have the right to remain silent. You also have the right to be represented by an attorney…”

    Those rights – the rights not to speak and to have a lawyer – are known as Miranda rights.

    Police photos of Ernesto Miranda on March 13, 1963.
    Police photos of Ernesto Miranda on March 13, 1963.

    The name comes from Ernesto Miranda. In 1963, he was arrested and charged with kidnapping, robbing, and raping a young woman. Police arrested Miranda and questioned him. Miranda admitted to some of the crimes, and a jury later used his confession to find him guilty.

    But some activists said Miranda’s trial was not fair. The reason, they said, was because police had not clearly told Miranda about his rights. The U.S. Constitution says people do not have to admit to wrongdoing.

    A majority of justices agreed. Their decision changed police policies, and strengthened protections for people who have been arrested.

    By the way, Ernesto Miranda? He was given another trial. This time, lawyers could not use his confession against him. But they did use sworn statements by his ex-girlfriend. He was again found guilty and sentenced to prison.

    Kelly Jean Kelly wrote this story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.


    Words in This Story

    attorney - n. one who is legally appointed to do business for another

    confession - n. a written or spoken statement of guilt by someone accused of an offense