What is the Fifth Amendment? Know Your Legal Rights - Knowledge Is Power


The Fifth Amendment was added to the Bill of Rights and U.S. Constitution in 1791. It provides judicial rights and protections for every American citizen at both the federal and state level. The amendment has four major areas. They include: (1) If accused of a capital offense due process with a grand jury is required, (2) double jeopardy or convicted twice for the same offense is prohibited, (3) the protection from testifying against oneself in any court is a violation and (4) seizure of private property without appropriate compensation is illegal.

Due Process

Due process are legal procedures that follow judicial rules and fundamentals that protect an accused of their judicial rights in a capital offense. Capital offenses are crimes resulting in life or death sentences. To open up a court trial, the capital offender requires a private or court appointed lawyer and a panel of 23 jurors. The jury collaborates with prosecutors that provide and review sufficient witnesses and evidences to an unbiased judge.

If the presentation of the evidences and witnesses, found through legal methods, determines that court proceedings are necessary, an indictment is issued. It’s a formal document outlining the criminal charges of the prosecuting attorney’s client. Scheduled is a criminal trial free of fraud, juried by peers and supervised by a judge.The trial must maintain the integrity of the offender’s rights.

Double Jeopardy

Double Jeopardy is a legal procedure that restricts courts from re-prosecuting any person after the court has granted a mistrial, acquittal and/or a conviction. It’s against the law to assign multiple punishments for the same offense.

Self Incrimination

It’s against the Fifth Amendment to be forced to testify or be a witness against oneself in court. Along with the Fifth Amendment is the 1966 Miranda Warning. It was enacted into law after the infamous Miranda vs. Arizona court case. Before an arrest is made, law enforcement officials must read the Miranda Warning. It states, “you have the right to remain silent, anything you say or do may be used against you in a court of law”.

The Miranda Warning immediately reminds the offender of their self incrimination right to “remain silent.” If the suspect talks, their statements will be used against him in court.

Citizens “taking the fifth” is a term used for refusals to respond to any questioning during police interrogations, arrests and court proceedings. The suspect cannot be punished for using the protection. Once a suspect requests for counsel and “takes the fifth,” questioning and coercion must immediately stop. Without the help of the accused, law enforcement officials must find sufficient evidence and witnesses for the crime. The law also protects the suspect from forcibly being a witness against oneself in court.

Eminent Domain

Eminent domain is the federal and state’s legal right to obtain “private property for public use.” Public use of seized property must show beneficial need for the given community. Beneficial need, for the general populace, is in the form of increased revenue, infrastructure improvements and creation of new jobs.

The Fifth Amendment requires the government to obtain the private property at the controversial “fair market value”. Fair market value is the purchase of an item at an estimate of the competitive prices or value usually seen at an open market. The controversy lies with the government’s approach to obtaining the private property as cheaply as law allows.

Knowledge is Power

Many American citizens know that judicial rights exist. Until an ill-fated day arrives, full knowledge and comprehension lacks. Unfortunately, there are questionable law enforcement officials that take advantage of these uninformed individuals. Before an unexpected situation arises, it’s important to understand the full spectrum of the Fifth Amendment protections. Knowledge gives power against coercion and unjust legal procedures. It sets for a journey for respectful communication, collection of evidences and a fair and impartial trial.

Restricting any citizen from exercising their judicial liberties is a direct violation of their Constitutional rights.