Welcome back to what is becoming a week long lesson on the Bill of Rights. Although you probably learned all of this information in civics class many years ago, a refresher is likely in order. Some of the lesser know amendments have probably slipped your mind completely! Starting with the Fifth Amendment, let’s continue our Bill of Rights deep dive.
The Fifth Amendment
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; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; 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; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation”
If you have watched a single episode of Law and Order you have probably heard someone yell, “I PLEED THE FIFTH!” This is the fifth they are talking about. The Fifth Amendment dictates that no one can be held accountable for a capital or “infamous” crime unless they are indicted by a grand jury. The only exception to this is if they are a member of the Armed Forces, in which case they may face court martial. It also protects us from facing double jeopardy, or of being tried for the same crime twice. And finally, the right so widely popularized in courtroom dramas, individuals cannot be forced to provide any evidence against themselves. This is known as “pleading the Fifth.”