Volume 53

Miranda: The Magic Words to Invoke One’s Rights

by Devika Singh

Recently, the Supreme Court of Kansas overturned a conviction based on police officers’ failure to honor the defendant’s assertion of his right to remain silent. The court held that the defendant’s statement, “This—I guess where, I, I’m going to take my rights . . . ” was an invocation of the right to remain silent, regardless of the wavering words “I guess” and the defendant’s follow-on assertion that he wanted to continue helping the police. The defendant’s ambiguous invocation could have resulted from the failure of the Miranda warning he received to specify how to assert his rights. To reduce instances of ambiguous invocation, the Supreme Court should revise Miranda warnings to specify words sufficient to invoke Fifth Amendment Miranda rights.

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