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The Fifth Amendment

Everyone has heard or seen the “Miranda Rights” on television and/or in movies. In fact, most people could probably recite what they are without reading the actual U.S. Supreme Court case or reviewing a criminal law textbook. However, there are a number of factors at play that determine when the Miranda rights must be given to a suspect. Does an officer have to Mirandize you if he walks up on the street and says, “How are you today?” When do constitutional provisions “kick in”?

How would you explain the Miranda warnings and their significance to a friend of yours not in the criminal justice field? At a minimum, address the following questions:

What does the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution mean when it states that a person shall not “be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself”?

When must a police officer read an accused their “Miranda warnings”?

If a police officer violates a defendant’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, what happens

to the criminal case against that defendant?


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