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Silence: Misconceptions remain 40 years after Miranda vs. Arizona

Silence: Misconceptions remain 40 years after Miranda vs. Arizona

By Mark Leberfinger

Frederick William Asper last week heard some of the most famous words engrained in the public's consciousness over the last two generations:

“You have the right to remain silent.”

Asper was read his Miranda rights after his arrest in the second of two southern Blair County vehicle chases. He didn't have to answer questions from police.

“Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.”

Asper spoke to Martinsburg police. He said he recently had returned from Kentucky and was the driver of a vehicle stolen from that state. He also admitted to fleeing from the officer trying to stop him, court documents state.

Asper later invoked his right to remain silent. He said he wouldn't answer questions that Magisterial District Judge Craig E. Ormsby asked for a bail questionnaire.

“My attorney advised me to decline to answer,” Asper said.

Asper knew his rights of self-incrimination and right to counsel. That might not have been the case 40 years ago.

The Miranda warning today commonly is heard on the streets of America, in movie theaters and on television.

The warning was created after the June 1966 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Miranda v. Arizona, dealing with the admissibility of statements made during “custodial interrogations.”

Protections of the Fifth and Sixth Amendments were at stake in the case. The Fifth Amendment protects against self-incrimination, while the Sixth Amendment gives a person the right to counsel.

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