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Your 5th Amendment Rights

Last updated 6 years ago

The first ten amendments to the Constitution grant fundamental rights to each citizen. The Fifth Amendment provides judicial rights regarding court procedure. To find out more about this important amendment, read on.

Right to a Grand Jury Indictment

If you are arrested for a serious crime, a grand jury will evaluate the evidence against you and decide if you should be charged with the crime. Not all states use grand juries, but they are customary for federal cases. The grand jury acts as a safeguard against overzealous prosecution, requiring that the prosecuting attorney present significant evidence that the defendant committed the crime.

Prohibition Against Double Jeopardy

Under this provision of the Fifth Amendment, you are protected from being prosecuted or punished for the same crime twice. Though this can be complicated, it conveys three basic rights: the right against being tried for a crime you have already been acquitted of; the right against being tried again for a crime you have already been convicted of; and the right against being punished multiple times for the same offense. Exceptions to this provision do exist. For example, you can be tried at both the state and federal level for the same crime, and you can face both civil and criminal charges for the same offense.

Right to Due Process

Due process comes in two forms: procedural and substantive. Procedural due process refers to correct court procedure, like being notified of the charges against you. Substantive due process means that you cannot be prosecuted for a crime simply because you are exercising your rights guaranteed under the Constitution.

Right Against Self-Incrimination

Perhaps the best-know provision of the Fifth Amendment, this right means that you can refuse to answer questions in a police interrogation or in court because you may reveal information that would incriminate you.

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