The Fifth Amendment provides for several valuable rights and protections. People often refer to the Constitution of the United States while engaged in political discussions. Oftentimes, things are misquoted, misinterpreted, and misunderstood. This is especially true with regard to the criminal law implications of the Constitution. In fact, a lot of people are unaware that criminal law is a very small part of the United State Constitution.
In this blog we will talk about the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution and how is applies in the real world to criminal cases. We previous wrote a blog on perjury and how it relates to the Fifth Amendment.
Like all our blogs, this blog is intended for informational purposes only and would be a very poor substitute for the advice and counsel of a criminal defense lawyer.
The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution
The verbiage of the Fifth Amendment can be found here. Like all the Amendments, it is short but says a lot without saying much. It provides protections with regards to self-incrimination, Double Jeopardy, and Due Process. But what do all of these things mean? We hope to explain below.
Self-Incrimination and the Fifth Amendment
You have the right to remain silent. In a criminal trial, the defendant never has to testify. This is because of the Fifth Amendment. In fact, someone accused of a crime never has to make a statement against themselves or talk to the police at all (in fact, you should not talk to the police if you have been accused of a crime). When someone chooses to do so anyway, it is treated as an admission and used against them.
You have a presumption of innocence – keep it! This Amendment allows you remain silent and to not say anything at all.
Due Process and the Fifth Amendment
Due Process is a topic in which we can go into a lot of detail, but simply put, it provides you with protection from being arbitrarily locked up. Due Process forces the government to formally charge you with a crime and allow you to defend yourself and present evidence. This means you get a fighting chance and a chance to be heard.
Double Jeopardy and the Fifth Amendment
We previously wrote a blog on Double Jeopardy, which you can read here. At its very essence, The Double Jeopardy Clause in the Fifth Amendment keeps you from being tried for the same crime twice.
How the Fifth Amendment applies to state criminal law
Though the Fifth Amendment is meant to apply to federal criminal law, the due process clause 14th Amendment of the United States incorporates constitutional rights to state criminal matters as well. This means that all of your constitutional rights as a criminal defendant are in place whether you are charged with a federal crime or a state crime.
If you have been charged with a crime, contact us. At Gilles Law, we handle criminal charges in North Carolina, criminal charges in South Carolina, and Federal criminal charges.