Monday, April 25, 2011

Miranda Comes to France

Since the 1966 decision in Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, an individual about to undergo custodial interrogation must first be given the now-famous Miranda warnings advising him that he has a right to remain silent, that anything he says can be used against him, and that he has the right to the presence of counsel during the interrogation.
    When Miranda was decided it caused an enormous controversy, but today it is part of the fabric of American society. In Dickerson v. United States, 530 U.S. 428 (2000), the Supreme Court declined to overrule Miranda, and while a majority of the Court has whittled away at Miranda, its basic precepts--that people undergoing the pressure of a custodial interrogation by the police must be warned of their right to remain silent and their right to counsel--remain intact. 
    It appears that Miranda has crossed the Atlantic to France. Under traditional French garde à vue--custody--an individual undergoing police interrogation had the right to see a lawyer for the first 30 minutes, but then the police could question the suspect without his attorney for 48 to 96 hours. 
    A new law passed by the French parliament changes this: now the individual must be told of his right to remain silent and of the right to the presence of counsel during the interrogation. While the parliament wanted the new law to go into effect in June, a French court ruled that it must go into effect immediately.
    An account of the new law can be found here

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