Supreme Court To Clarify Miranda Warning Dos And Donts

12.07.09 | FL News Team

The famous Miranda warning that begins "you have the right to remain silent" comes under scrutiny today in the Supreme Court. At issue is whether police in Tampa, Florida, worded part of the warning too vaguely. Kevin Dewayne Powell was found guilty in 2004 of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. The guilty verdict came after he waived his right to an attorney and confessed to police. Powell's confession and ten-year sentence were tossed out on appeal after he insisted police didn't make clear that he could have a lawyer present during questioning. Powell said the Miranda warning that Tampa police gave him only mentioned a lawyer being present beforehand.

 The Florida Supreme Court affirmed the appeals court's ruling. At issue in arguments today are whether the Florida high court split judicial hairs that will invalidate the way other law enforcement agencies read suspects their rights. And that could create a legal quagmire as other state and federal courts figure out how to apply the new rule without having to toss out cases where a lawyer wasn't present during questioning. The original Miranda versus Arizona ruling of 1966 mandates that any suspect be read a list of constitutional rights after being arrested, but the wording varies from one jurisdiction to the next.