Although the case is known as “Miranda” it was actually a consolidation of four separate cases with similar issues. The defendants had offered some incriminating evidence in one way or the other during interrogation by law enforcement and had done so without being advised that they had a right to remain silent under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution (the Constitution).
As for the first Defendant, Ernesto Miranda, he had been arrested for kidnapping and rape, and without an attorney he signed a confession after being interrogated without an attorney. Within the statement he signed, he agreed that he was aware of his rights.
The issue in the Miranda case was whether the government required to notify a defendant who has been arrested prior to any questioning, that the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution guarantees his or her right against self-incrimination. The Court decided that certain rights are given by the Constitution. The Government authorities must inform people who have been arrested that they have right under the Constitution not to answer any questions and the right to remain silent. They must be informed that anything they do say could be used against them in court, and that they have a right to have an attorney present during any questioning. If they are not advised of these rights, any admissions made cannot be used against them.
Since the original “MIRANDA”case, there have been an enormous amount of case law testing various situations surrounding the advisement of a person’s rights.
The case law established in the Miranda Case is alive and well in the United States. Due to television, almost every citizen, including school children can recite the “Miranda warning”—“You have the right to remain silent. If you choose to give up this right, anything you say can be used against you…” However, through cases that have been decided, the rule has actually been expanded in some ways.
BREWER v. WILLIAMS, 430 U.S. 387 (1977)
Anthony Williams was arrested, arraigned, and committed to jail in Davenport, Iowa, for the murder of a 10-year-old girl in Des Moines, Iowa at the YMCA during a swimming meet. Both his Des Moines lawyer and his lawyer at the Davenport arraignment advised respondent not to make any statements until after consulting with the Des Moines lawyer upon being returned to Des Moines, which was over 100 miles from where he was picked up. The police officers who were to accompany him on the automobile drive back to Des Moines agreed not to question him during the trip. During the trip, he expressed no willingness to be interrogated in the absence of an attorney but instead stated several times that he would tell the whole story after seeing his Des Moines lawyer. However, one of the police officers, who knew that Williams was a former mental patient and was deeply religious, delivered what has become known as the “Christian burial speech."
Addressing Mr. Williams as "Reverend," the detective said: "I want to give you something to think about while we're traveling down the road. . . They are predicting several inches of snow for tonight, and I feel that you yourself are the only person that knows where this little girl's body is, that you yourself have only been there once, and if you get a snow on top of it you yourself may be unable to find it… the parents of this little girl should be entitled to a Christian burial for the little girl who was snatched away from them on Christmas [E]ve and murdered.”
Williams eventually directed the police to the girl's body during the car ride back to Des Moines. He was tried and convicted of murder, over objections to the admission of evidence resulting from the automobile ride. The Iowa Supreme Court affirmed, holding, as did the trial court, that he had waived his constitutional right to the assistance of counsel. The Federal District Court held that the evidence in question had been wrongly admitted at Williams’ trial on the ground because he had not waived his constitutional right to the assistance of counsel. The Court of Appeals affirmed.
The subtle difference is that actually no questions were asked of Mr. Williams to try to get him to confess or to lead them to the body, yet the conversation was meant to be heard by him and to make him inclined to get him to talk. Although he was not questioned in the strict sense of the word, it was determined by the United States Supreme Court that he rights were violated. He won a new trial and the jury did not hear that he led police to the little girl’s body.
Brewer v Williams 430 U.S. 387, 1977.
NIX v. WILLIAMS, 467 U.S. 431 (1984)
467 U.S. 431
NIX, WARDEN OF THE IOWA STATE PENITENTIARY v. WILLIAMS
CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE EIGHTH CIRCUIT