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Miranda rights celebrate 50th birthday, may get a Spanish update

Some take a moment to renew themselves on their birthday with a trip to a spa, others with a moment of reflection. As the Miranda celebrates its 50th birthday this year, it may celebrate with an update - a translation into Spanish.

What is the Miranda?

Black's Law Dictionary, the dictionary go-to for legal professionals, defines the Miranda as the:

US legal requirement that a criminal suspect shall be told of standing constitutional rights before being interrogated. This rule results from the 1966 case of Miranda v. State of Arizona. This requirement must occur to make confessions obtained by police admissible in court. These rights are: (1) the right to remain silent, (2) the right to have an attorney present, and (3) the right the state appointment an attorney if the suspect cannot afford one. Also known as Miranda Warning.

Essentially, this means that without the Miranda warning any evidence gathered during the questioning of a suspect in a criminal matter would not be admissible in court.

Has incorrect translation been an issue?

In short, the answer is yes. The incorrect translation of the Miranda is an issue. There are approximately 874,000 arrests in the United States that use Spanish-language Miranda warnings every single year.

An examination of one officer's translation found some discrepancies. First off, he used the word "libre" to substitute for "free". This is not accurate. Libre essentially means that the attorney would be available, not that the legal representation would be free.

This is just one example of the many errors that could occur with an inaccurate translation.

Should a Spanish translation be available?

A recent article in Vice, an online publication that focuses on "immersive investigative journalism", the United States is the world's second-largest Spanish-speaking country. Second only to Mexico.

Problems arise when enforcement officers attempt to translate these rights themselves. As noted in the example above, the true meaning of the Miranda can be lost if a single word is poorly translated. In an effort to avoid this error, the American Bar Association (ABA), a group of legal professional from throughout the country, is considering adapting a uniform Spanish-language Miranda.

Although the ABA cannot require officers to use this warning, it will be encouraged and readily available.

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