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Hastings Race and Poverty Law Journal

Abstract

Miranda v. Arizona requires law enforcement to warn defendants of their right to remain silent and give defendants an explanation that anything said can and will be used against the defendant in court. However, Berghuis v. Thompkins turned Miranda upside down by requiring defendants to unambiguously invoke their right to remain silent or be legally presumed to have waived their rights. Meaning that a defendant's yes or no answer to any question, including questions unrelated to the case, may be interpreted as a knowingly and intelligent waiver of the defendant's Miranda rights.

This note will address how the lower standard for law enforcement and prosecutors has the potential to disproportionally disadvantage non-English speaking or limited-English speaking defendants. This note surveys the deficiencies of how the legal system has attempted to deal with such language barriers under the Miranda context, and proposes solutions to mitigate the potential increased detrimental effects Berghuis will have on these language barriers. This note will propose and explain why the legal system should implement some of the novel solutions that the healthcare field has implemented to handle language barriers.

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