San Diego Law Review

Article Title

Miranda at Forty

Library of Congress Authority File


Document Type

Symposium Article


In some respects, the Miranda decision was relatively uncontroversial because the Court did little more than require the police to inform suspects of their rights and prescribe procedures for the waiver of those rights. But Miranda's holding was not inevitable. In the Court's later decision in Schneckloth v. Bustamonte, the Court held that suspects can consent to searches of their persons or property even though they have not been informed that they have a Fourth Amendment right to refuse consent. A critic of Schneckloth might legitimately question how suspects can validly waive Fourth Amendment rights that they do not know they possess and why the police should not be required to inform suspects of their rights before seeking a waiver. Miranda, at least, avoids this criticism by requiring that suspects receive such information. As will be developed more fully, despite the limited nature of the Miranda decision and the advantages that flow from its media impact, Miranda was not a panacea for the Court's confessions jurisprudence. In Miranda, the Court tried to sort out a muddled area of jurisprudence, but it is not clear that the Court succeeded.