Silence Is Golden Essay

1263 words - 5 pages

Citizens are told to always cooperate with police officers, and people most often do, partly due to the belief that officers have a duty to serve and protect. Unfortunately, often there is a darker side of this coin. What if by extraordinary coincidence, yourself or someone close to you, became the possible suspect in the investigation of a crime? Do you know enough about your rights to make correct decisions, when your freedom and quality of life hang in the balance? Sadly, most people do not. If you think this could never apply to you, you are wrong. The first year of criminal exoneration by D.N.A. evidence was 1989. The University of Michigan performed a study on exoneration and wrongful convictions in 2004. “…the leading causes of wrongful convictions for murder were false confessions and perjury by co- defendants, informants, police officers or forensic scientists”. (Liptak) In 25% of DNA exoneration (a total of 255 to date), innocent defendants delivered outright confessions or plead guilty. (Innocence Project, www.innocenceproject.org) Do you think innocent people would never admit to committing a violent crime like murder? Statistics show that recently it is happening more often than you might think. An article about the causes of false confessions, appearing in the Chicago Tribune only days ago cites two recent occurrences in the Chicago area. Kevin Fox, and Jerry Hobbs III, both confessed to raping and murdering their own daughters after high-pressure interrogation. In both cases DNA evidence proved otherwise. (Mills) The best description of the Fifth Amendment I found is from Ohio v. Reiner in 2001. “One of the Fifth Amendment’s basic functions is to protect innocent men who otherwise might be ensnared by ambiguous circumstances. Truthful responses of an innocent witness, as well as those of a wrongdoer, may provide the government with incriminating evidence from the speaker’s own mouth”. (Ohio v. Reiner) It is common knowledge that officers are required by law to read a person’s Miranda rights before questioning. By contrast, not many people realize police officers are allowed, by law, to lie to suspects. Police are routinely encouraged by district attorneys to fabricate information during interviews, about evidence, witnesses, or facts. Amazingly suspects still waive their rights, often to their dismay. Before 1966, police interrogation included intimidating and coercive methods sometimes referred to as the ‘third degree’. Today, we have protection from intimidation towards confession; we have what is called the Miranda Warning.
The Miranda Warning got its name from a criminal case trial on June 13, 1966. Miranda v. Arizona was a case in which Ernesto Miranda was charged with robbery, kidnapping, and rape. He confessed to his crimes while in police custody, but the conviction was overturned because of police intimidation. The case was retried, including witness testimony and other evidence, and the original conviction was...

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