Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Miranda rights: Who matters more, the guilty or the innocent?

· Philosophy





In the United States, it is traditional for criminals to receive what is known as their Miranda rights. This means that they receive a warning from their arresting officers as they are being handcuffed. The warning tells them that they have a right not to say anything without the benefit of a lawyer to defend them, but if they do say anything, if it incriminates them, it will be used against them in a court of law. It is obviously in their best interest not to say anything that could help convict them later.


However, in the case of the Boston bombing, it is a little different. The surviving Tsarnaev brother, Dzhokhar, is recovering in the hospital from his injuries. The circumstances of his arrest have obviously been different from the norm. Another interesting aspect to this case is that I think I read somewhere else that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev cannot speak because of his injuries.


Tsarnaev was read his rights, not because he is in the hospital, however; it will be because there is something in the American law called the public safety exception. If someone like Tsarnaev is considered a threat to the public safety, then it is not required that they have their Miranda rights read to them in the public interest because the innocent people they could hurt by giving information is considered to be more important than the rights of the charged defendant. However, as the author of the Slate article points out, it becomes a slippery slope because once the rules are relaxed for one defendant, it is then easier the next time to relax them for someone else. And eventually someone who is innocent of the crime they are charged with are not going to receive a fair trial because of the relaxation of the rules. It brings back the old philosophical question that has plagued the law forever: who matters more, the guilty or the innocent?


We do not know for sure if Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is responsible for the Boston Marathon bombing. A lot of people are sure, but that means nothing within the context of the law. Another part of American law is the credo that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. Meaning that they have to be in a court of law, and judged by their peers, who decide whether or not the prosecuting team has presented a case of the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Tsarnaev has been convicted in the court of public opinion already, but as I have said in other blogs, there are some people who question his guilt for a variety of reasons. I think the innocent matter more than the guilty. As the Slate author, Emily Bazelon points out, this is not just about one defendant. Whether this particular man is guilty or innocent, once the rules for one defendant are relaxed, they are relaxed for everyone. And I do not think personally that every person who is charged with a crime is guilty. Especially when his last name is not easily prounounced by native English speakers.

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