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Did you know there is no agreed Spanish translation of the Miranda warning? Everyone who watches American movies or TV shows has heard the famous words; “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you do say can and may be used against you in a court of law….”

Astonishingly, the exact words are not fixed even in English – the arresting officer has to get several points of law across but the actual words may vary. In addition, there are no agreed translations of the Miranda warning into other languages, such as Spanish. With varied English and variation in translations a suspect’s lack of understanding of the warning has on occasion caused problems at trial.

At the Annual Meeting of the American Bar Association (ABA)earlier this month they passed a resolution “urging federal, state, local and territorial law-enforcement authorities to provide a culturally, substantively accurate translation of the Miranda warning in Spanish”. Although the resolution is not legally binding, the ABA is considering creating an agreed, accurate translation and promoting its use across all areas of law enforcement.

The Miranda warning arose from a Supreme Court judgement in Miranda v. Arizona in 1966. This held that any incriminating statement elicited from a suspect who was not informed of their rights violates the Fifth Amendment and the Sixth Amendment right to counsel.

It is 50 years since the famous words came into force across the US, so about time that a Spanish translation of the Miranda warning was agreed! It should help ensure the rights of suspects are clearly explained and that there are fewer problems when cases come to court.