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In March 1963, an 18-year-old female in Phoenix, Arizona, was kidnapped and raped. After investigation, the police arrested Ernesto Miranda at his Phoenix home. At the police station, Miranda was placed in a lineup. The victim could not positively identify Miranda as the individual who had raped her. The police then took Miranda into an interrogation room and questioned him for two hours, after which he confessed to having committed the crime. Although detectives said they neither threatened Miranda nor promised him leniency, Miranda told a different story.

After Miranda’s confession, detectives brought the victim into the room. One of the detectives asked Miranda if this was the person he had raped. Miranda looked at her and said, “That’s the girl.” When asked to put his confession into a written statement, Miranda agreed. Across the top of the statement was a typewritten disclaimer saying that the suspect was confessing voluntarily, without threats or promises of immunity, and “with full knowledge of my legal rights, understanding any statement I make may be used against me.” He signed the disclaimer. Miranda asserted that he repeatedly asked for a lawyer during the questioning but was refused.

The written confession was introduced as evidence in an Arizona trial court where Miranda was tried and found guilty of kidnapping and rape and sentenced to 20 to 30 years in prison. His conviction was upheld by the Arizona Supreme Court. When he appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, Miranda did not appeal on the basis that his confession was false or coerced. Instead, he argued that he would not have confessed if he had been advised of his right to remain silent and of his right to an attorney. Lawyers for the state argued that Miranda could have asked for an attorney at any time but had not done so and that his confession had been freely given.