5th Amendment – what does it mean?

The First 10 Amendments to the U.S. Constitution are known as the Bill of Rights.  There is often discussion and debate about what these amendments mean. Without bringing a political view and without giving legal advice, below is the text of the 4th Amendment and some commentary on it.

Amendment V: 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.”

If you have every watched a TV show or movie and the police arrest, detain, or interrogate someone the “Miranda warning” is given. Miranda v. Arizona in 1966 is a result of the 5th Amendment. However, this is not all that this amendment covers. Most mob movies have the “mob boss” or someone claiming to plead the 5th when asked if they committed a crime or for details on a crime. Many people jokingly plead the 5th when asked a question they don’t want to answer by a friend or family member. This amendment goes beyond the element of not admitting to something that will get you in trouble.

The 5th Amendment covers a wide range of topics:

  • a Grand Jury needs to indict a person for a capital or infamous crime
  • what is now called Double Jeopardy, a person cannot be charged for the same crime twice
  • a person cannot be forced to be a witness against themselves (aka Self-incrimination)
  • Due Process is required before being deprived of life, liberty, or property
  • private property cannot be taken for public use without compensation

Each of these elements could be a blog of its own, as there details that make each element multi-faceted and complex. Double Jeopardy and how it impacts state verse federal prosecution and criminal verse civil cases is on my list of blogs to write in the future.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s