Lawyers want universal Spanish translation for Miranda Rights

It’s been 50 years since the Miranda Rights warning, requiring police to tell people what rights they have at the time of an arrest, became part of the law.

Now, The American Bar Association says there needs to be a standardized Spanish version of the warning since the warning can be read differently across each agency.

When officers give the Miranda Warning in Spanish, there is not agreed upon translation. It has led to confusion at times and cases being overturned.

Dallas Sheriff's Deputy Miguel Hernandez is often needed to give the Miranda Warning in Spanish.

“With our investigative unit, yes,” he explained. “And if another agency needs me, I’ll assist if I’m available at the time.”

The translation Hernandez reads translates to, “You have the right to terminate the interrogation.”

A different translation from another agency translates to, “You have the right to terminate the interview.”

“A lot of what's going on is decided without a trial, which is Miranda Rights, which is plea bargain agreements,” said State Representative Roberto Alonzo. “And the best thing is for both sides to understand fully the police, just like defendants.”

The different translations are why the American Bar Association passed a resolution urging to provide a culturally, substantively and accurate translation of the Miranda Warning in Spanish.

“I can tell you unless it’s culturally sensitive in the words, the way it’s explained, a lot of people are making decisions incorrectly,” said Alonzo.

Attorney Anthony Farmer, who is fluent in Spanish, agrees a standard translation would help all parties involved.

“This resolution is good for suspects,” the attorney said. “It’s good for attorneys. It’s good for law enforcement.”

Farmer feels a universal Spanish Miranda Warning would prevent deficiencies in the system and protect Fifth Amendment rights.

“Law enforcement doesn’t have to wait later on and see if there are defects and be faced with motions to suppress based on those sacrosanct rights,” said Farmer.

The resolution has no legally binding impact. The ABA is considering creating a proper translation and promoting its use, keeping important meanings of words from being lost in translation.