If you are like most people in West Virginia, you have watched multiple television shows or movies in which a person has been stopped by a law enforcement officer and questioned. Before any questions are asked, however, the person playing the officer first recites the words of what are known to be part of the Miranda rights. In short, these rights allow a person to legally refuse to respond to any police questioning without penalty.

The history of these rights goes back to the early 1960s when a man was accused of kidnapping and raping a young woman in Arizona. The man’s last name was Miranda. According to The History Channel, the woman who said she had been raped did not identify the defendant in a police lineup yet officers chose to interrogate the man. During the questioning, the man is said to have confessed to the crime, albeit with a different set of facts than what had been put forth by the alleged victim.

The defendant was not aware that he had the right to refuse to answer questions. He was eventually convicted and spent time in prison but in 1966, the U.S. Supreme Court created the Miranda rights to ideally ensure that all citizens could be properly informed of their rights. 

If you would like to learn more about your rights before, during and after a criminal arrest and how to protect yourself against unfair treatment in this process, please feel free to visit the defendant’s rights page of our West Virginia criminal defense website.