Bad Miranda translation requires new trial

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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:18
English to Spanish
+ ...
Silly Jul 17, 2013

The Miranda warning has been translated into Spanish so many times and printed out, that one would think they would be able to get a good translation that has stood up in court and use it.

One would think so, but still they can manage to mess things up.


LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:18
Russian to English
+ ...
I personally think it is totally absurd. Jul 18, 2013

The text was obviously orally translated by someone who did not pay attention to detail, but even with those grammatical and lexical mistakes the essence of the warning was the same. "You can remain silent and you have the right to a lawyer". The defense just had something to pick on when appealing the case. Theoretically, of course, they are right, but practically, I don't think it would have made that much of a difference in this case.

How do you say "an available lawyer" as opposed to "a public defender', or "a free-of-charge lawyer " in Spanish, by the way? This is the only part that could have made some difference, although I do not know how significant in practice. Do these two terms ever overlap in Spanish? (free lawyer meaning both)

[Edited at 2013-07-19 07:45 GMT]


Marie-Helene Dubois  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:18
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
un abogado de oficio Jul 18, 2013

is a lawyer who provides his/her services free of charge, which cannot be confused in Spanish with "un abogado disponible/libre" which is a lawyer who is available.
There is no way I can think of in Spanish to say "free" as in "no charge" and "available" using one and the same word.

I'm not convinced therefore that the back translation into English is very credible.


teju  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:18
English to Spanish
+ ...
I don't understand Jul 18, 2013

Besides what Henry already said, it's very iffy to make a decision like this based on a back translation. If the sticky point here is the word "free", I would want to know if the detective said "gratis" (free of charge) or "libre" (available). Maybe I'm missing something, but the ambiguity exists in English.


Tatty  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:18
Spanish to English
+ ...
Free Jul 20, 2013

I guess that the person giving the Miranda warning in English must have said free. The interpreter must therefore fall back on their experience or knowledge to know that it should be interpreted as "free of charge" or free as in unoccupied.

Or maybe the police officer giving the warning in English said "the court will appoint one for you". In this case, there is no mention of any payment or otherwise and the rendering provided in Spanish is not bad.

In either case, it was held that the warning had been correctly administered in English. But people do have mouths, if the person arrested had any doubt they could have asked about the money side before waiving their right to an attorney. Or the interpreter could have checked in Spanish that the person was willing to be interviewed without a lawyer being present. There is no point in standing on ceremony in an interpreting situation...


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Bad Miranda translation requires new trial

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