Friday, May 21, 2010

You Have No Right to Remain Silent; You Must Be Loud!

"This is a public service announcement
With guitars.
Know your rights, all three of them.

Number 1:
You have the right not to be killed.
Murder is a crime.
Unless it was done by a
Policeman or aristocrat.
Know your rights.

And Number 2:
You have the right to food money,
Providing of course you
Don't mind a little
Investigation, humiliation,
And if you cross your fingers,
Rehabilitation.
Know your rights.
These are your rights.

Know these rights.

Number 3:
You have the right to free
Speech as long as you're not
Dumb enough to actually try it.
Know your rights.
These are your rights.
All three of 'em.

It has been suggested
In some quarters that this is not enough.
Well,
Get off the streets
Get off the streets
Run." --Joe Strummer and Mick Jones

Immediately following the arrest of فیصل شہزاد for his attempted Times Square bombing, politicians, pundits, and other people proclaimed an alleged need to do away with mandatory Miranda Rights. As usual, misconceptions drive the seemingly polar and dichotic debate. So here's the skinny on Miranda rights:

  • Miranda rights serve the express purpose of executing the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, viz. that no one is obligated to self-incriminate and that everyone has the right to a fair trial.
  • Miranda warnings are always optional. Verbal or written evidence against someone, particularly when instigated by interrogation, is inadmissible in court if said person was not mirandized. However, these inadmissible confessions can be useful in the same way that plea-bargaining can be useful. Police and lawyers often skip the Miranda rights when looking to fry bigger fish.
  • Being mirandized is the first major step to a criminal trial. Without being mirandized, a suspect can let confessions run free, for these confessions will be inadmissible.
  • Miranda rights should absolutely and always be read to anyone that is expected to be charged and tried with a crime.