Many Americans recognize the phrase “I plead the 5th,” but what specific rights does the 5th amendment grant you? How can these rights be used in your favor against criminal charges? Read on to find out.
“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;”
The first few phrases of the 5th amendment outline your right to due process when facing capital charges, i.e. charges that could result in lifetime imprisonment or the death sentence. Due process is the fair legal procedure secured to every citizen, and it often comes into play in cases involving capital charges such as homicide, genocide, treason, and the like.
Due process means you have the right to a fair trial in front of a Grand Jury. You also have the right to work with an attorney and defend your case.
Without due process, your jurors could have preconceived ideas about your crime without ever hearing your defense. The judge could also sway the court proceedings in the prosecutor’s favor, and you may not have access to an attorney.
Due process protects your right to defend yourself against capital charges, and ensures that you receive the fair and just legal proceedings you deserve.
“Nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb;”
Under double jeopardy, the court cannot charge you for a crime if you have already been acquitted or convicted, or if your charges were previously dropped. This ensures that the court’s decision is final, and unopen to re-prosecution or new sentencing.
If you are charged with a harsh or violent crime, such as domestic violence, assault, or homicide, the double jeopardy clause could be extremely helpful. Capital charges require lengthy, public court proceedings that are both emotionally strenuous and time-consuming. Double jeopardy ensures that, once your capital crimes case has concluded, you will not be submitted to the same process again.
“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;”
This amendment clause prohibits someone from forcing you to testify or incriminate yourself. Referenced in the Miranda Warning used by police officers, this right allows you to willfully remain silent. You do not have to answer any questions during interrogations or court proceedings, nor can law enforcement officials punish you for remaining silent. Your own words often hold more weight in court, so enacting this right when facing charges – especially violent charges, like domestic violence – is extremely important.
Your silence limits the amount of verbal evidence the court can use against you. Without a statement or testimony, the prosecutor will have no choice but to use other, less powerful evidence to prove your guilt. This gives you and your attorney the opportunity to build a stronger defense and limit what the prosecutor can use against you.
The 5th amendment also applies to incriminating actions the court requests of you. If the court requests you to do something that could be used as evidence of your guilt, you have the right to refuse.
For example, in a 2010 case, the court suspected that the hard drive was filled with child pornography. They issued a subpoena to the suspect, and demanded that he unencrypt the hard drive. The man refused because his actions of unencrypting the device would suggest that he committed the crime. Eventually, the court was forced to pursue the case without the hard drive and was unable to convict him.
“Nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”
The final phrase in the 5th amendment refers to eminent domain, which limits the ability of the government to take away your land or property.
The government cannot take private property away from an owner unless the plans for the property benefit the entire community. The government must then pay you, the private owner, for your property at a “fair market value,” which depends on the competitive prices of your local area. This clause limits the government’s ability to take your land and ensures the government justly compensates you for your property.
Our Charlotte County Criminal Defense Lawyers Can Defend You – (866) 270-8058
Whether you are facing a violent crime or a misdemeanor offense, our team at Bogle Law can help you. Since opening our doors in 2007, we have remained dedicated to defending the rights of our clients. We take the time to conduct our own investigation into your case, collect and evaluate all evidence that could be used against you, and prepare a defense on your behalf. We keep you informed every step of the way and always act in your best interests.
Contact our Charlotte County criminal defense attorneystoday at Bogle Law. We have the knowledge and experience to help you fight the accusations against you: (866) 270-8058.