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The Miranda Warning

I have not updated this page since about 2005. Please forgive the broken links.

In 1968, the Supreme Court of the United States of America ruled on a case, Miranda v. Arizona, and established what is commonly known as the Miranda Rights. I have an entire page devoted to Miranda v. Arizona, Miranda Rights and related cases.

The Supreme Court decision did not specify exactly how suspects should be informed of their rights. The full text of the decision has many statements of what should happen, such as in section 1(d):

But there are many similar statements in the decision, each worded slightly differently, and some are much longer than others. So, where did the wording that we know come from?

Origin of the Familiar Miranda Warning

When the Supreme Court handed down its decision in 1968, Thomas Lynch, the California Attorney General met with the distict attorneys in California. They decided that they needed a concise, simple warning that they could read to suspects. Lynch asked Harold Berliner, then district attorney of Nevada County, CA, and Doris Maier, then deputy attorney general, to write something. They came up with the wording we all know:

How did this wording become so widespread? Berliner realized that every officer of the law would need to know these words, and it just so happened that he had a background in publishing. He had the words printed on thin, wallet-sized cards and sold hundreds of thousands of them. Soon nearly every police district was using this wording, and it has become known throughout the world from American television shows and movies.

The words of Berliner and Maier have changed little over the years, except to make the second sentence more gender-neutral. Some alternative forms of the second sentence are:

You can see a sample card on the CHIEF Supply website, with English on one side and Spanish on the other. Having a correct translation is important, otherwise statements may be thrown out - see United States v. Perez-Lopez.

For More Information

If you would like to read more about Harold Berliner, Doris Maier, and the story behind the writing of the Miranda Warning, these three articles are the source of this web page: It is important to note that police are not legally required to read you your rights when you are arrested. However, it is probably in their best interest to do so, because then you can't claim that you didn't know your rights, and try and get confessions and such declared inadmissible as evidence and thrown out of court. Even if the confession is declared inadmissible, sometimes it can be used to impair the defendant's credibility, and sometimes evidence found from information in the confession can still be used.

Police are allowed to ask you questions to establish your identity (name, address, date of birth, social security number) without reading you your rights first. However, you may or may not be required to answer if there is no reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing - see my page devoted to Miranda v. Arizona, Miranda Rights and related cases.

There is also a band called Miranda Warning.