A closer look at the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution

Anyone who eagerly tunes in each week to watch a favorite television crime drama has more than likely gained a passing knowledge of everything from police procedure and crime scene investigation to courtroom tactics and, of course, constitutional rights.

Regarding this last point, they’ve probably heard terms like “self-incrimination,” “due process,” “fair trial,” and “double jeopardy,” being used by the actors.

In today’s post, the first in an ongoing series, we’ll start to take a closer look at the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, and the various protections it provides at both the state and federal level in order to help broaden your understanding.

What exactly does the Fifth Amendment say?  

While the entire text of the Fifth Amendment is perhaps too lengthy to reproduce in a blog post, it essentially sets forth five distinct constitutional protections/limits on police procedure.

What are these five constitutional protections/limits on police procedure?

In general, the five constitutional protections/limits set forth by the Fifth Amendment pertain to the following:

  • Grand juries
  • Self-incrimination
  • Double jeopardy
  • Due process
  • Just compensation

Have the constitutional protections/limits set forth by the Fifth Amendment always applied at both the state and federal level?

No. As it was originally drafted, the Fifth Amendment was only applicable to the federal courts. However, the Supreme Court of the United States changed this long ago by interpreting the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause as being a mechanism through which the Fifth Amendment (and other Amendments) could be applied to the individual states.

In our next post, we’ll examine how the Fifth Amendment protects people from the dangers of self-incrimination.

If you are facing any sort of criminal charges and believe that your constitutional rights have been violated in any capacity, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible to learn more about your options.