Miranda warning

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A "Miranda warning" refers to the warnings that a police officer is required to give to a detainee based on constitutional requirements.

The requirement to give Miranda warnings came from the Supreme Court decision, Miranda v. Arizona, 384 US 436 (1966). In Miranda, the Court held that a defendant cannot be questioned by police in the context of a custodial interrogation until the defendant made aware of:

  • The right to remain silent
  • The right to consult with an attorney and have the attorney present during questioning, and
  • The right to have an attorney appointed if indigent.

These warnings stem from the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and the Sixth Amendment right to counsel.   

Without a Miranda warning or a valid waiver of the Miranda rights, statements made may be inadmissible at trial under the exclusionary rule, which prevents a party from using evidence at trial which had been gathered in violation of the United States Constitution.

The language used by Justice Warren in Miranda v. Arizona has given rise to the various Miranda warnings provided by police officers to detainees, which differ by jurisdiction. The Court specifically held that: “Prior to any questioning, the person must be warned that he has a right to remain silent, that any statement he does make may be used as evidence against him, and that he has a right to the presence of an attorney, either retained or appointed. The defendant may waive effectuation of these rights, provided the waiver is made voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently.” (Miranda v. Arizona, 384 US 436, 444).

[Last updated in July of 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team