This blog and the accompanying resource are part of a Shaped monthly series providing teachers for Grades 6–12 with downloadable U.S. history classroom resources and discussion topics.
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.”
You and your students may be familiar with this phrase—stated by law enforcement officers upon an arrest—but you may be less familiar with where it originated. It dates back to the 1966 Supreme Court case Miranda v. Arizona, where the Supreme Court ruled that a detained criminal suspect has the right to an attorney and against self-incrimination. This was an important case with consequences of monumental importance in the U.S., and one that can be more closely examined in your middle or high school classroom.
What became known as the Miranda rights continue to be in full effect today. As stated on the website of the Crime Museum in Washington, D.C.:
If a police officer fails to read you the above rights, any statement or confession made is presumed to be involuntary and cannot be used as evidence in a criminal case. Additionally, any evidence that is discovered from the involuntary confession is likely to be thrown out in a criminal case.
Have your students learn about the origin of the Miranda rights as they explore its continued impact today with the resource below.