By Dr. David Childs, Ph.D.
Northern Kentucky University
When one is apprehended or detained by law enforcement in the United States, police officers are required to give the suspect a Miranda warning (Usually referred to as their Miranda Rights). Miranda rights are a notification that is to be given by an officer to a criminal suspect in police custody, advising them of certain rights they have as US citizens. The basic premise of the statement is that the individual that is in police custody can lawfully remain silent and refuse to answer any questions or provide any information to law enforcement officials. This is to prevent any information from being used against them in court unlawfully. The specific language for the Miranda warning varies between jurisdictions but has the same basic principles. For example, the warning may be stated as follows:
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in court. You have the right to talk to a lawyer for advice before we ask you any questions. You have the right to have a lawyer with you during questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you before any questioning if you wish. If you decide to answer questions now without a lawyer present, you have the right to stop answering at any time.”
Established in 1966 after the Miranda v. Arizona case, the Miranda warning is part of an effort to protect citizens’ fifth amendment rights, as well as their sixth amendment right to council from being violated by police officers. If law enforcement officials decline to read the suspect their rights, none of the evidence collected from the interrogation can be used against them in a court of law.
Many American citizens do not fully understand their Miranda rights, what they mean or the historical precedent behind them. Social studies classrooms can be great spaces to help youth understand what the Miranda warning is all about, and further understand their own rights in US society. Below we have included several links to lesson plans that teachers can use in their middle and high school classrooms to help shed more light on the subject.
Miranda v. Arizona (1966)
You Have Right to Remain Silent
Understanding and Applying the Miranda Decision
Educator Resources for Miranda Rights
Right to Remain Silent: Miranda v. Arizona
Lesson Plan: Miranda Warning
Resource Packet for Teachers Law Day 2016
Miranda and Teens
Confessions- Lesson Plan on Miranda Rights
Miranda Rights Lesson Plan
Your Right to Remain Silent: Miranda v. Arizona
Search The Learning Network Search The Right to Know Your Rights
Miranda V. Arizona (1966) Lesson
Miranda Rights- Lesson Template for James Madison Foundation
Other Teaching Resources
Miranda v. Arizona: The Rights to Justice
Teaching About Miranda warnings
The Right to Remain Silent: Miranda V. Arizona
What Are Your Miranda Rights?
Miranda Warning Overview
Fifth Amendment Miranda Rights
Miranda Rights: What Happens If the Police Don’t Read You Your Rights
The Miranda rights are established
1. To what extent did you understand your Miranda rights before reading this article?
2. Why do you think understanding Miranda rights is important for US citizens?
3. What are other ways that social studies and/or language arts teachers can address this topic in their classrooms?
4. What resources stood out to you above? Which do you find most interesting and helpful?