Alan Wang

Major and Classification

Law, History, Culture and Linguistics

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Sandra Disner


Dornsife Linguistics

Research Gateway Project

Miranda Rights Readings to Non-Native English Speakers

Project Abstract

You have the right to remain silent” is an infamous phrase commonly associated with Miranda readings that almost everyone knows through popular media portraying law enforcement. While everyone might know the phrase, few actually possess an accurate understanding of their Miranda rights. Numerous studies have shown that an alarming percentage of fluent English speakers fail in their comprehension and invocation of their Miranda rights. With the failure rate of fluent English speakers in mind, the difficulties faced in understanding of Miranda rights by non-proficient English speakers must be even greater. This study examines the challenges and difficulties that non-proficient English speakers are faced with in understanding their rights and the factors that courts consider when making their subsequent decision on whether or not the suspects made valid waivers of such rights. Through qualitative analysis of case law dealing with Miranda rights and non-proficient English speakers (NPES), glaring issues are apparent, specifically in the areas of the “preponderance of evidence” standard of proof afforded to the government, “fake comprehension” by the suspect, and the disparity of the success rate between cases with linguistic expert testimony and those without. The cases analyzed not only highlight legal challenges faced by speakers but also advocate for a change in legal procedure in determining the validity of Miranda waivers by ESL and NPES speakers