Lesson: Criminal Law



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Laura Zanzig

Model Lesson Plan

Street Law Winter/Spring 2011-2012
Lesson: Criminal Law – Miranda rights

Source: Lecture information learned in Criminal Procedure lecture with Prof. Mary Fan, University of Washington; activity worksheet adapted from opinion poll created by Greg Hesler, found on the Street Law Model Lesson Plan website

Time: One class period, 50 minutes

Materials required: Miranda takeaway messages handout; video questions handout; “Should the Confession Be Allowed?” worksheet


I. Goals

A. Give the students practical information that they will benefit from and can apply to situations in their lives where they interact with law enforcement.



NB: This lesson plan was designed for a class with lower scholastic skills and more experience with law enforcement than the average high schooler. It is meant to be a practical tool that is accessible and helps the students understand and apply these concepts.
II. Objectives

A. Knowledge objectives:

1. Students will know their Miranda rights

2. Students will know the best way to handle an arrest

B. Skills objectives:

1. Students will better be able to stand up for themselves to law enforcement – but in a positive way

2. Students will be understand when their rights apply and how they work

C. Attitude objectives

1. Students will be interested and empowered by the information
III. Entry task

Journal: Describe a time when someone wanted to talk about something or asked you about something you didn’t want to talk about. What happened? How did you respond? Did you feel free to say no? (5 minutes)

*Journals should be collected and feedback given; can assign grades if desired
IV. Classroom methods

A. VIDEO

1. Pass out ACLU video questions

2. Instruct students that they are to fill in the questions as they watch; all the answers will be found in the video

3. Show The ACLU & Elon James White: What To Do When You're Stopped By Police:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ti2-NjnalFU (4 minutes long)
4. Briefly go over answers after video is done. Call on students to provide the answers.

B. LECTURE (10-15 minutes)

1. Give short lecture on Miranda rights (found in attached PowerPoint)

a. Students can ask questions as you go or afterwards

2. Pass out Miranda takeway handout for students to keep

C. ACTIVITY

1. Pass out “Should the Confession Be Allowed” handout

2. Have students break into small groups and answer for each of the three scenarios whether or not the confession should be allowed (10-15 minutes)

a. Stress that they identify whether there is custody and interrogation in each scenario – if there is only one but not the other, the confession can be allowed.

3. Go through scenarios one by one as a class (corresponding slides in attached PowerPoint) (10-15 minutes)

a. Have the students give their opinion first

b. Then explain what the Supreme Court held

c. Address custody and interrogation separately for each scenario
V. Evaluation

Journals, video questions, participation in class, handout



ACLU VIDEO: KNOW YOUR RIGHTS –

WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE ARRESTED
QUESTIONS TO ANSWER AS YOU WATCH

1. Can you say “I’m remaining silent” or do you need to just stay quiet?


2. Can you tell the police they don’t have permission to search your belongings?


3. What should you do if you’re arrested? Circle one.

a. Do not resist

b. Call an attorney

c. Keep your hands visible

d. All of the above


4. Do you still have rights even if you don’t have your immigration papers?

5. Can you ask the officer if you can leave?

TEACHER’S KEY: ACLU VIDEO QUESTIONS
1. Can you say “I’m remaining silent” or do you need to just stay quiet?

You can and should say, “I’m remaining silent.”
2. Can you tell the police they don’t have permission to search your belongings?

Yes you can and you should, clearly and respectfully.
3. What should you do if you’re arrested? Circle one.

a. Do not resist

b. Call an attorney

c. Keep your hands visible

d. All of the above

All of the above.
4. Do you still have rights even if you don’t have your immigration papers?

Yes you do!
5. Can you ask the officer if you can leave?

Yes you can, although it’s best to do it calmly and respectfully.

MIRANDA RIGHTS

IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW

You have the right to remain silent!
You have the right to an attorney!
To exercise your rights, you must be CLEAR
A waiver of your rights can be interpreted by your words or actions

Even after you have exercised your rights!


These rights apply when you are in

custodial police interrogation
Custody: where a reasonable person would not feel free to leave


Interrogation: direction questioning or interaction that is reasonably expected to get a response
SHOULD THE CONFESSION BE ALLOWED?
Read the following scenarios. Have the defendant’s Miranda rights been violated?

For each problem, consider whether there was both custody and interrogation.

If there is only one, or neither, the officer does not have to read the Miranda rights and the statement can be used in court.


  1. Charlie was arrested and charged with armed robbery of a convenience store. While Charlie was in jail waiting for his trial, an undercover officer was placed in Charlie’s cell. Before the officer asked any questions, Charlie said that he had robbed the convenience store. Charlie’s statement was used against him at trial, despite the fact that he was not read his Miranda rights.

Should the court allow the statement?
Yes No Undecided



  1. Jared was arrested on suspicion of shooting a local taxicab driver in the head and then burying the body nearby. Jared was read his Miranda rights, and indicated that he needed to speak to a lawyer. On the way to the station, the police began talking to each other about the murder, while Jared listened in the back seat. Then, without warning, Jared admitted to the murder. At his trial, Jared argued that the police had coerced him into admitting to the murder and violated his right to remain silent.

Should the court allow the statement?
Yes No Undecided



  1. David was driving 40 mph in a 25 mph zone when he was suddenly pulled over. The officer approached him, and requested that he step outside of the vehicle. David stepped out of the car, and the officer asked him whether or not he was aware of how fast he was going. In response to the officer’s questioning, David admitted that he had been speeding. At his hearing, David argued that because the officer did not read his Miranda warnings, his confession should not be admitted.

Should the court allow David’s confession?
Yes No Undecided

Teacher’s Guide to Outcomes: Miranda activity



Answers to activity scenarios are in attached PowerPoint. The following can help supplement teacher’s explanations of why there was custody or interrogation.
Scenario Number One:

The Supreme Court held that this was not a violation of the Fifth Amendment. They felt that unless the defendant could show that the police officer actually questioned the prisoner, instead of merely listening to him, then the discussion did not qualify as a custodial interrogation.

Note: A later Supreme Court case went even further, saying that Miranda warnings are not required if the defendant does not know he is speaking to a law enforcement agent.
Scenario Number Two:

The Supreme Court said that this situation did not violated the defendant’s Miranda rights because he had not been expressly questioned, nor had the police said anything that the knew would likely coerce the defendant into admitting guilt.



Note: The court did indicate in a later case that if, under the same circumstances, the officer’s conversation was intended to produce a confession, then it would violate the defendant’s Fifth Amendment, even absent express questioning.
Scenario Number Three:

The Supreme Court said that Miranda warnings need not be given before roadside questioning of a motorist detained pursuant to a routine traffic stop. They did not feel that such stops impair a person’s free exercise of his privilege against self-incrimination to require that he be warned of his constitutional rights.


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