The Role of the 5th Amendment

Subject: Sociology
Type: Analytical Essay
Pages: 4
Word count: 923
Topics: Bill of Rights, Constitution, Discrimination
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The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution is a part of the Bill of Rights that protects U.S. citizens from all forms of discrimination. It holds that no person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against themselves. This law applies to criminal cases, which prohibits forcefully taking confessions or testimony from an individual indicted for a crime. The 5th Amendment is a significant protection in the United States, but it’s not limited to American citizens, as it protects any person indicted for a crime in the United States. According to U.S. law, it protects people such as illegal immigrants suspected of committing crimes. In addition, it provides a means of protecting the citizenry against harassment by the government. Finally, the Amendment helps to ensure that any crimes committed on American soil are dealt with appropriately and through fair prosecution. Both cases are designed to protect citizens’ rights while allowing them to be held accountable for their actions. The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution functions to eliminate the unfair application of the law by stating that all individuals get fair due process before a grand jury without prejudice or discrimination.

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Self-Incrimination in Criminal Cases

The prohibition against self-incrimination is the bedrock of protection for defendants in criminal cases. The 5th Amendment has been interpreted to mean that witnesses are not required to answer questions that may lead to their indictments through self-incriminatory statements. For example, a person cannot be compelled to testify against their spouse because they have committed a crime in their presence. Since the 5th Amendment is included as part of the Bill of Rights, it also means that no one is immune from prosecution after being indicted (Hills, 2020). Moreover, while there are absolute protections against self-incrimination, people can be charged with committing crimes and held accountable for their actions. Though a person cannot be compelled to testify against themselves, it does not mean that anything they say in court can’t be used against them later. Inadmissible evidence includes evidence obtained through coercion, such as threats, lies, or promises. As such, if a person becomes a witness in a criminal case, their testimony can still be used against them later if the threat of punishment was used to get them to testify.

Self-incrimination can be linked to Double Jeopardy protection under the 5th Amendment, as it protects individuals from harassment through successive trials. The 5th Amendment protects individuals from being charged twice for the same crime (Cauthen, 2017). If a person is accused of a crime, they will go to trial to be convicted or acquitted of the alleged crimes. If found guilty, a person may face fines or imprisonment depending on their sentence. However, the Double Jeopardy clause also allows that if a person has been formally charged with a crime and is acquitted, they cannot be charged again for the same offense (Tariq, 2020). This law applies if they plead guilty and have their conviction overturned on appeal so long as any threat or promise didn’t coerce their plea.

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Dues Process

A person is guaranteed due process in the 5th Amendment. Due process guarantees that the government will fairly treat a person; it is a legal protection against unnecessary government intrusion on individual liberty (Cohen, 2017). For example, people are guaranteed due process when it comes to eminent domain, which is the right of the government to take private property for public use with compensation of fair value. There are limits to what can be done under the due process clause; for example, laws have been passed to protect people against unlawful searches and seizures. This restriction is important because it protects the citizenry from undue prosecution while still allowing them to be tried for crimes they have committed. Due process is also vital to protect against people who might otherwise be victimized by government abuse of power. While the 5th Amendment applies to the federal government, its identical context is in the 14th Amendment for the state governments. Such applications in the law have been important in protecting citizens from any abuses of power by the government.

Just Compensation Clause

The constitution gives the federal government powers to take private property for public use. However, under the 5th Amendment, the Just Compensation Clause necessitates the individual be compensated based on the market value for the property value at the time of taking (Van der Ploeg & Vanclay, 2017). In some cases, this compensation is in cash. Mostly, however, it is done through property conveyance and payment in full for loss of use or depreciation of value. This option is important because it allows the government to use the property for the public good without depriving individuals of it.

Conclusion

The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution functions to eliminate the unfair application of the law by stating that all individuals get fair due process before a grand jury without prejudice or discrimination. Every American citizen can be prosecuted fairly and have a right to due process; this is why the 5th Amendment is so important. It gives people a means of protecting themselves against criminal prosecution while protecting their rights as citizens in the United States. It is essential because it impacts all Americans regardless of their socioeconomic status, which is why it has been a vital part of the U.S. justice system for centuries. The 5th Amendment differs from other amendments in that it does not specify rights but states that no person will be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.

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  1. Cauthen, R. H. (2017). The Fifth Amendment and compelling unencrypted data, encryption codes, and passwords. Am. J. Trial Advoc.41, 119.
  2. Cohen, J. (2017). Minimalism about human rights: The most we can hope for? Theories of Rights, 419-442. Routledge. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9760.2004.00197.x
  3. Hills, B. R. (2020). Self-incrimination and the dispute over the meaning of “Criminal Case.” Or. L. Rev.99, 359.
  4. Tariq, F. (2020). Double jeopardy under code of criminal procedure (Section 403). SSRN. https://ssrn.com/abstract=3717020
  5. Van der Ploeg, L., & Vanclay, F. (2017). A human rights based approach to project induced displacement and resettlement. Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal35(1), 34-52. https://doi.org/10.1080/14615517.2016.1271538
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