Street Law, Inc. and The Supreme Court Historical Society present

Landmark Cases of the U.S. Supreme Court

Street Law /

Miranda Warnings and the Bill of Rights

You may be familiar with the Miranda warnings from television and the movies. But what do they really mean? What rights from the Bill of Rights are they designed to protect?

Miranda Warnings

  1. You have the right to remain silent.
  2. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
  3. You have the right to an attorney.
  4. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.

Directions

For this activity, you will work in small groups. Each group will need a copy of the Miranda warnings (found above) and a copy of the Bill of Rights. Your group should be prepared to share what you do with the rest of the class, either on poster paper, an overhead projector, or the board.

First, using the chart below, take each sentence of the Miranda warnings and translate them into language that makes sense to you.

Next, match each phrase of your reworded Miranda warnings with the right in the Bill of Rights that it is designed to protect. Discuss the following questions within your group:

  1. Why is this right so important that the Supreme Court of the United States decided people accused of crimes must be informed of it? 
  2. Does informing a person of the right provide absolute protection against a violation of that right?  
  3. How can police be certain that an accused person understands the meaning of the Miranda warnings?

Sentence from Miranda

Put in your own words

Bill of Rights

You have the right to remain silent.
Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
You have the right to an attorney.
If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.

< Miranda v. Arizona