Fifth Amendment

“No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

This one deals with your rights in a courtroom including double jeopardy and capital punishment.

  1. “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger”
    1. The phrase “capital or otherwise nefarious crime” refers to crimes on a federal level that must be tried in front of a grand jury.
    2. “Except in cases arising in the land….” – Allows the military and government to conduct a different type of trial and justice system, completely separate from the civilian system.
  2. “nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb” – If you are accused of a crime and are cleared of all charges, you cannot be charged again for the same crime.
  3. ” nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself” – You’ve heard the expression “I plead the 5th”?  This prevents someone from confessing to a crime that they did not or may not have committed.
  4. “nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law” – Makes it so that Congress cannot sentence anyone to death, take anything of theirs, or deprive anyone of any rights of theirs without due process (trial by jury).
  5. “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” – While 4A allows you to be secure in your property, this one prevents Congress from using your property without your permission and without compensating you for its usage.

Other notes:

  • Google any of those to see SCOTUS rulings that have dealt with 5A.
  • It is a good thing that nefarious and capital crimes are held before a Grand Jury – it would suck to see a DUI to be contested before the nation’s highest court.
  • For those who saw the movie “Double Jeopardy”, the movie’s plot fails legally.  Both charges were in two different states.  Then again, the lawyer that gives Libby the advice was probably in jail for a reason.
  • Recall, that all the provisions in the COTUS 5A reflect on your rights at a federal level; be sure to see the 5A in your own state’s constitution to get a better understanding of your state’s rights.
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