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4 Powerful Rights You Have Under the Fifth Amendment If You Are Charged With a Crime

Jeff Cole
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Partner at Zimmer, Duncan & Cole

Many people don't give much thought to what their legal rights are under the United States Constitution. Other people just take them for granted. However, if you have been charged with a crime, you will be grateful for your rights under the Fifth Amendment. These protections can be vital from the moment the police suspect you committed a crime throughout your entire criminal process.

How the Fifth Amendment Protects You If You Are Facing Criminal Charges

The Fifth Amendment ensures that people charged with a crime are treated fairly and that the police do not violate their constitutional rights. These rights and protections include the following:

  • Protection against self-incrimination. A person who has been charged with a crime cannot be forced to testify against himself. This right applies not only at a trial or other court hearing, but also when the person is in police custody and the police question him. A suspect must also be given his Miranda warnings—informing him that anything he says could be used against him, as well as other important protections—if he is in police custody before the police interrogate him.
  • Right to a grand jury. A grand jury is a group of citizens in the local jury pool picked to hear evidence and determine whether there is sufficient evidence to charge a person with a crime. Under the Fifth Amendment, a grand jury is required before someone is charged with a federal felony, but does not have to be used if a person is being charged with a felony under state law.
  • Protection against double jeopardy. The principle of double jeopardy provides that a person cannot be tried or punished twice for the same crime. This means he cannot be charged a second time for the same crime if he was acquitted. He also cannot be tried a second time for a crime—even with different charges—that he was convicted of, and cannot be punished multiple times for the same crime. 
  • Right to due process. A person cannot be deprived of his life, liberty, or property without due process of law. Due process of law includes both procedural and substantive protections. The procedural protections are to ensure that a person charged with a crime understands the charges against him and the procedures throughout the criminal process. Substantive due process means that a person cannot be charged with a crime that violates a fundamental right under the constitution, such as the right to freedom of speech or the free exercise of religion.

If you are charged with a crime, you need a criminal defense attorney to ensure that your rights under the Fifth Amendment are protected, because the police may not be too concerned about your rights. At Zimmer, Duncan & Cole, LLP, we have helped people with many types of criminal matters and understand the importance of your constitutional protections. Start an online chat to learn how we can help you.

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