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Abstract

The United States Supreme Court's landmark decision Miranda v. Arizona spawned countless cases interpreting the Court's construction of standards for the admissibility of criminal defendants' statements made during custodial interrogations. While earlier cases addressed the issue of waiver of right to counsel in a trial context, Miranda represented the Court's first consideration of waiver of right to counsel in a pretrial context. Chief Justice Warren, writing for a majority of five, explained that the Court intended "to further explore some facets of the problem, thus exposed, of applying the privilege against self-incrimination to 'incustody interrogations, and to give concrete constitutional guidelines for law enforcement agencies and courts to follow." The continuing efforts of both bar and bench to extract concrete standards from Miranda indicate Warren may have pursued an elusive dream. Questions of what constitutes custodial interrogation, what form the Miranda warnings must take and how an accused may waive his rights presently plague state and federal courts. Prior to North Carolina v. Butler, the North Carolina Supreme Court had prescribed a rigid rule for waiver based on a close and literal reading of Miranda: an explicit statement of waiver, either oral or written, was necessary to support a finding that defendant effectively waived his right to counsel. The United States Supreme Court rejected that rigid rule and adopted a more flexible approach which takes into account the realities of criminal investigations. Now, in at least some cases, waiver may be inferred from the defendant's words and actions.

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