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The Supreme Court recently revised the Miranda warnings that people who find themselves under arrest will hear from the arresting officer. A. Harrison Barnes, attorney and founder says the changes are important and will affect not only those charged with crimes, but lawyers, law enforcement and the legal sector in its entirety. So just what are those changes and what do they mean?

Many say the courts have traditionally leaned towards trimming Miranda, that begins with “You have the right to remain silent”, even when it’s not in the best interest of law and order. There are those who say these changes include “major revisions”. The decision, originally made in 1966 and was as a result of an Arizona man being questioned in a kidnapping charge, was put into place in an effort to ensure everyone’s civil rights were kept in tact, even during an arrest and any subsequent questioning, says the founder.

The changes will now include attempts by law enforcement to question a suspect who had previously asked for a lawyer provided that suspect had been released from custody for at least two weeks, with no violation to the suspect’s constitutional rights and with no obligation to mirandize the suspect again. Many are questioning the logic, even as Justice Scalia, who wrote the majority opinion, attempted to explain:

“In our judgment, 14 days will provide plenty of time for the suspect to get reacclimated to his life, consult with friends and counsel and to shake off any residual coercive effects of his prior custody”.

Another change, and one that’s, well, interesting to say the least, includes that suspects must break their silence in order to tell police they’re not going to speak in order to invoke the “right to remain silent” aspect of Miranda. That’s a slow dance with way too many moves, say some legal experts.

Not only that, but some suspects, not knowing the Miranda rules had changed (really…how many bank robbers will check for any revisions to Miranda before donning his stocking face mask and gloves?) could find themselves against frustrated law enforcement officials who believe the suspect is kicking Miranda, when in fact, the suspect may only be invoking Miranda as he knows it. There’s sure to be a learning curve, at the very least as law enforcement officials and the court systems acclimate themselves to these changes.

The Court approved only one state version that does not include specific verbiage that suspects have a right to a lawyer. In Florida, Miranda is read that a suspect has the right to talk to a lawyer “before answering any of our questions”, versus the more standard “you have a right to have an attorney present during any questioning”.

Regardless, these changes, designed to keep Miranda in tact as much as possible, will need the proverbial “growing pains” before it finally settles in and becomes second nature to those who work to ensure the safety of the citizens and those who are determined to break that sense of safety, says A. Harrison Barnes.

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