• Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Court held that confessions excluded because of an absence of Miranda warnings could be used to impeach the credibility of a criminal defendant who takes the stand to testify.

When Vivan Harris was arrested for selling heroin, he made incriminating statements before he was properly informed of his constitutional rights, as required by Miranda v. Arizona (1966). At trial, Harris testified in his own defense, and the prosecutor impeached his credibility by referring to his statements at the time of arrest. On appeal, his counsel argued that any reference to the improperly obtained evidence was invalid. By a 5-4 vote, however, the Supreme Court disagreed. Chief Justice Warren E. Burger’sBurger, Warren E.;Harris v. New York[Harris v. New York] opinion for the majority reasoned that the defendant had an obligation to speak truthfully on the witness stand and that the Miranda precedent did not provide a license to use perjury without any “risk of confrontation with prior inconsistent utterances.” The Harris decision was the first case in which the Court began to chip away at the Miranda ruling. It demonstrated that the majority of the justices regarded Miranda as a “prophylactic” device rather than as an integral part of the Fifth Amendment.Miranda rights;Harris v. New York[Harris v. New York]

Arizona v. Fulminante

Brown v. Mississippi

Due process, procedural

Exclusionary rule

Fifth Amendment

Miranda v. Arizona

Self-incrimination, immunity against

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