Lycoming County Law Day Celebrations

Law Day 2016 Art & Essay Contest Winning Entries

Posted on May 7th, 2016 at 8:27 PM
Law Day 2016 Art & Essay Contest Winning Entries

Alice Ravert

Lyter Elementary School

Someone who is arrested has the constitutional right to remain silent.

This is important because if you say anything wrong it can be used against you in court. When someone is arrested, the police officer reads them their rights which is called Miranda rights. The police officer will ask you questions, but you have the right to answer them or ask for a lawyer. If you ask for a lawyer the police officer cannot ask you anymore questions. He must then wait until you are with your lawyer before he can proceed. Whether you are guilty or innocent, you are entitled to a lawyer or public defender if you cannot afford to pay. Someone may not be guilty of what they were arrested for, or what they are being accused of, and they may want to answer questions because they know they didn’t do it. But, it could go wrong because after being questioned for many hours you give a false confession. So, now you are charged and arrested for a crime you did not commit, because you didn’t remain silent. Once you choose to not remain silent, you will have a much harder time in court trying plead your innocent. My opinion is to remain silent until you have proper counsel. Once you have your lawyer present and you have the time to speak to him, then he goes to work for you. Your lawyer will advise on what questions to answer, and what you should or shouldn’t say when you choose to remain silent until you are appointed a lawyer, your lawyer then tries to workout a plea deal on your behalf.

It is everyone’s constitutional right to remain silent until they have a lawyer present. I feel it will be in that person’s best interest to wait for a lawyer before they start to talk.

Terrance Kepner
Lyter Elementary School

Miranda Rights - More Than Words 

"It is the spirit and not the form of law that keeps justice alive." -Earl Warren

Fifty years ago, a horrible crime was committed in Arizona. Ernesto Miranda kidnapped and assaulted a woman. He was arrested and interrogated for the crime. He confessed, but didn't know about his right to remain silent.

That day would forever change the way we look at our Constitutional rights. Miranda vs. Arizona was a case that went to the Supreme Court. The Court ruled that an accused must be told their rights (including to remain silent) before being questioned.

I think the right to remain silent is important because it ensures that "no person shall be compelled to be a witness against himself." This right is granted in the Fifth Amendment of the Bill of Rights, and it serves a greater purpose. It puts the responsibility to prove someone guilty in the hands of the prosecutor.

I believe you shouldn't have to speak against yourself. Although someone might think defendants should always tell the truth if they did something wrong, our Constitution's Preamble states one of its criteria's is to "establish justice." One way our founding fathers ensured justice was the right to remain silent.

What would happen if we didn't have this right? First, people would have to admit if they did something wrong during an interrogation or trial. You could then find someone guilty without evidence other than their confession. And, during a confession, you could get in trouble for other things you might have done, even if you didn't commit the crime you were accused of. In conclusion, the importance of the right to remain silent is that it ensures that no one can be a witness against him/herself and the responsibility to prove someone guilty goes to the prosecutor. This right, and all of our rights, guarantee that everyone is treated equally under the law.

Emma E. Strickland
Donald E. Schick Elementary

Celebrating 50 Years of the Miranda Rights

This year, 2016, signifies the 50th anniversary of the Miranda Rights in which was enacted because a man by the name of Ernesto Miranda was accused of a crime that he confessed to during interrogation but later recanted that confession. With the help of a Civil Rights Union, the Supreme Court overturned his conviction. Because of the actions of Miranda and that Civil Rights Union, the United States' citizens now have rights when arrested and accused of crime. Even though Miranda was retried and convicted again, his appeal to his first conviction established rights for Americans when they are arrested. When it comes to the Miranda rights, I would not eliminate or change anything, but I would add that a lawyer should be required to be present and represent the suspect during interrogation.

Although I would keep the Miranda Rights the same without eliminating or changing anything, I would add a right that states after a suspect is arrested, and they are interrogated by the police, a lawyer for the accused suspect should be required to be present during questioning. If no lawyer is present, then no questioning should take place. As it states in the5th amendment of the United States Constitution, "No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury" The Miranda Rights were created to protect the accused suspect's 5th amendment, which is that a person has a right to refuse to answer questions that would incriminate him or herself. For example, this is especially important for young people accused of a crime. They may not understand their rights, or be nervous and afraid and say something during interrogation that is not true. Lawyers should be required to be present during the interrogation of a suspect for the suspect's benefit. It's very important for the accused to fully comprehend their legal rights in order to be tried in the most fair manner.

In addition, The First Amendment can actually be detrimental to a person when being interrogated, therefore, an attorney should be required to be present during questioning. The First Amendment in the United States Constitution allows Americans freedom of speech which benefits us in many ways. One of the many benefits are that any American has the right to share their opinion with other people and have their own opinion about the government. However, when it comes to freedom of speech when a suspect is being questioned, his or her own words can be used against them later in court. It is vital to know and fully comprehend what the phrase, "Freedom of Speech" means.

The Miranda Rights are important because it helps to protect our Constitutional rights, therefore, every part of the Miranda Warning should always remain intact indefinitely. As it says in the 6th amendment, any suspect has the right to the Assistance of Counsel for their defense, meaning the person in custody has the right to have an attorney defend them. The 6thamendment is important to uphold the Miranda rights because it guarantees the suspect the right to legal counsel the entire time the accused is being held because they are innocent until proven guilty. The 5th and 6th amendment of the constitution supports every part of the Miranda Rights, and as long as everyone in the United States follows the Constitution, the Miranda Rights should stay a part of our law.

All in all, the Miranda Rights play an important role in the lives of United States citizens. Everything that is included in the Miranda Rights is important because without these rights, we would not have the many freedoms we do today. We, as Americans, are very fortunate to live in a society where certain rights like the 5th and 6th amendment are protected by the Constitution. The Miranda Rights protects the suspect's right to remain innocent until proven to guilty in a court of law by allowing the accused the right to remain silent. Because of the violation of one man's 5th and 6th amendment, the citizens of the United States can celebrate 50 years of protection of our most precious constitutional right...freedom.

Sophia Gardner
Loyalsock Middle School

Miranda Rights - More Than Words 

Imagine a world where Americans don't have Miranda Rights. A suspected criminal is arrested and pulled into the police station. When asked if he did the crime he responds with a simple "Yes, I did." It's done the case it solved, and the streets are one man closer to being completely clean. Life is good, and people can walk home at night feeling a little bit more secure. The next day another suspected criminal is brought in; she's a twelve-year-old girl. She doesn't live in the best neighborhood, and her single mother struggles to pay the bills each month. She can't afford a lawyer, and because there are no Miranda Rights she doesn't get one at all. She's found guilty in court, and the police put her away. They pat themselves on the back for a job well done, but the criminal who committed the crime, and pinned it on the twelve-year-old girl because he knew that she couldn't defend herself is still out there.

So, when presented with the question: What suggestions do you have to keep, change, eliminate or add to these Miranda Rights? I would say nothing. A world without Miranda Rights would be corrupt and many guilty criminals would run free time and time again. These rights were created back before my great-great-great-great grandparents lived, so why should I have the authority to change them? Some people might argue that "the system" is already corrupt, and that too many dirty criminals already walk free, but is that truly a problem that lies within the Miranda Rights? If changes were to be made, I don't think that anyone person should have complete authority over the modifications because who has the right to play "God" to an entire country like that? We have existed as a nation for more than two centuries with these rights (granted they weren't always called Miranda Rights), and no changes have been made so far. Yes there have been cases of injustice, and prejudice, but how would anyone propose that we solve that problem? I believe that the problems lie in the execution, not in the Miranda Rights themselves. If we strictly abide by the laws that our forefathers wrote for us in the Constitution there is no reason why the Miranda Rights should be altered.

The Miranda Rights are composed of the Fifth and Sixth Amendments. The most essential aspects are this: you have the right to remain silent, the right to talk to a lawyer and have a lawyer with you during interrogation, if you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you. The Miranda Rights protect innocent citizens against false accusations. I myself am an innocent citizen. If the police burst into my first period classroom tomorrow morning and accused me of a crime, that accusation would be entirely false. I would trust that the police had some evidence for accusing me because they can't just pick a criminal out of a crowd by looking at them; however, I would want a lawyer present with me during interrogation, even though I know that I am innocent, because I don't know the law as well as someone who has dedicated their life to studying it. Now hopefully, if the situations were reversed and I was guilty the lawyer would not be able to prove something that wasn't true, and justice would be served. In conclusion, I truly believe that the Miranda Rights should be left alone just the way they are. If we were to forfeit any of these rights to the government, isn't that just the same as giving up our freedom of speech? Or religion? In some cases I believe that the right to remain silent might be just as important as the freedom of speech. By submitting our Miranda Rights the hypothetical situation mentioned earlier becomes the sad truth. That innocent little girl's family can't afford a lawyer, and the law enforcement already thinks that she is guilty, so they put the wrong person away. The legacy of every parent and grandparent should be to leave behind a world that they would want their children to grow up in, so why surrender something that could potentially protect your innocent children from unlawful accusations. The Miranda Rights should be left just the way they are.

Jordan Kelley
Williamsport Area High School

Miranda Rights - More Than Words

The Miranda Rights are more than just words - they are vital provision of the American justice system. Not only do the Miranda Rights protect citizens from abusive government, but they also ensure the due process of law be followed for all Americans, and they work to create a heightened sense of political awareness among citizens. For these reasons and many more, the Miranda Rights established in 1966 must not be eliminated or disregarded, but be upheld and adhered to.

The Miranda Rights are indeed one of the most valuable aspects of the United States justice system because they work to protect American citizens from abuses of government power. One can understand how important restrictions on government are by looking at such restrictions that the Founders put in place when writing the Constitution. The systems of checks and balances and federalism were enacted to ensure branches and levels of government are unified enough to function cooperatively, yet separate enough to remain just in the case of another's corruption, as well as to check the power of those other branches or levels in hopes of preventing such corruption. Given just a few examples of the Founder's provisions to prevent abusive government, one can understand that the Founders intended for them to be needed and thus utilized, because no government is perfect; the possession of power will, without failure, be abused at some point. Therefore, since the American government is one for, by, and of the people, it is only logical to ensure that said people are treated as such. The Miranda warning, when followed, protects citizens from an abusive government because it forces law enforcement officers to directly address a citizen's rights, thus giving no excuse whatsoever for violating them. If officers didn't need to inform citizens of their Miranda Rights, they would undoubtedly take advantage of the citizen's ignorance and Violate their rights simply because that citizen would be incapable of questioning them. Thus, one important reason the Miranda Rights must be kept is that they protect citizens from abuses of government power.

As the Miranda warning protects citizens from abusive authorities, it also ensures that each citizen be granted the due process of law. The 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution ensures that no person shall be denied "life, liberty, or property, without due process of law". If the first step of this due process, the reading of rights, is followed, citizens under arrest are automatically on the proper track to the correct process. As it is the police officer's and court's job to prove a person guiHy, it is an officer's job to notify a person of their rights. As a person is innocent until proven otherwise, they should be assumed ignorant of their rights until they are adequately informed of them. Once this first step of reading the Miranda warning is followed, the rest of due process can take place legally because the citizen now has no reason to not understand their protection from self-incrimination and right to have a lawyer. In order to start the steps of due process of law correctly, the Miranda Rights must be recited and therefore must stay relevant and utilized.

In addition to protecting citizens' rights and upholding the Constitution, the presence of the Miranda Rights also work to create more informed citizens. In the United States of America, one who does not know their rights hardly has any. The ignorant citizen lives at the mercy of their government, their life depending on its resistance to becoming abusive. As the Founders have explained and history has demonstrated, governments are not highly resistant to taking advantage of their power; thus, a citizen's best defense from being taken advantage of is to know their rights and question the government's actions if or when they are being violated. As the Miranda Rights are very easy to remember and seen in many places such as movies and television shows, their commonness allows the average person to know the bare minimum of the extension of their rights. In a nation whose stability depends on the cooperation between government and citizen, disputes are typically beneficial as they will keep each side within their proper sphere of power. Therefore a citizen who knows their rights benefits American society as a whole, by being a primary defense and resource in keeping the government in check and maintaining order, justice, and peace.

In conclusion, the Miranda Rights serve many diverse and vital purposes, such as protecting citizens from abusive governments, ensuring adherence to the Constitution's vow to a due process of law, and being commonplace enough that average citizens understand them and thus become more educated and beneficial to American society. As the Miranda Rights protect us and continue to do so, we as Citizens rnust also work to protect them for the sake of justice in the present as well as in the future; because Miranda Rights are more than just words - they are a promise of fairness, justice, and peace.

Sharon Engel
Williamsport Area High School

Julia Mertes, McCall Middle School, grade 8

Julia Mertes

McCall Middle School

Keara Trice Williamsport High SchoolKeara Trice

Williamsport High School

Morgan Marty	Williamsport High School

Morgan Marty

Williamsport High School

Juliet Jacques	Williamsport High School

Juliet Jacques

Williamsport High School

Annie Rosenow Williamsport High School

Annie Rosenow

Williamsport High School