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Fifth Amendment

Bust out your magnifying glass. We're taking an up-close look at Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution.

Quote #1

Passed by Congress: 25 September 1789
Ratified: 15 December 1791


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 offence 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.

The Fifth Amendment offers a variety of protections to defendants in criminal proceedings. Most famously, it guarantees that no one can be forced to testify against himself; defendants in criminal cases can choose to remain silent, "pleading the Fifth," rather than offering testimony that might be used to convict them. The Fifth Amendment also requires that anyone put on trial first be formally indicted (charged with a crime) by a grand jury and guarantees that no one can be put on trial for the same crime twice (the so-called "double jeopardy" clause). Finally, most broadly and perhaps most importantly, the Fifth Amendment guarantees that no person can face criminal punishment without first receiving "due process of law."

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