The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution

First Amendment.

The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution

The United States Constitution was written in 1787 and ratified in 1788 becoming, according to the United States Senate, the “longest surviving written charter of government.” The Constitution organized the country’s government, provided justice and equality, and established checks and balances within the system.

The Constitution is a living and beathing document that allows for changes as required through “amendments.” The first ten amendments are considered the United States Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights, ratified in 1791, allows for certain limits on governmental power. Many of these amendments today are widely known simply by their amendment number.

The Fifth Amendment – Protections

The Fifth Amendment reads:

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.

Essentially, the Fifth Amendment:

  • Provides the right to indictment by grand jury and right of a fair trial;
  • Prevents a criminal defendant from being tried in a criminal court for the same offense more than once (“Double Jeopardy”);
  • Protects citizens from self-incrimination (the right to remain silent);
  • Prevents private property from being seized without just compensation.

Trial Rights

The trial rights within the Fifth Amendment provides defendants accused of serious crimes the right to be indicted by a Grand Jury and the due process of law within their criminal case.

Double Jeopardy

“Double jeopardy” is a term that refers to prosecuting a criminal defendant more than once for the same offense. Once a verdict has been reached, a defendant cannot be tried again. This means that:

  • If a defendant has been acquitted, new criminal charges cannot be brought against them based on the same evidence or offense.
  • If a defendant has been found guilty, they cannot be charged with additional or new crimes based on the same evidence or offense.

Importantly, double jeopardy only applies in criminal cases. Regardless of the verdict in a criminal case, the defendant can still face related civil lawsuits if applicable.

Famously, despite being acquitted of murder in criminal court, O.J. Simpson was later found legally responsible for the murders in a civil lawsuit regarding wrongful death. Unlike criminal cases, which require proving a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, civil cases require a “preponderance of evidence,” making the evidence bar slightly lower when it comes to proving liability.

The Right to Remain Silent

When a person states that they are “pleading the fifth,” they are invoking their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. This prevents individuals from self-incriminating and admitting guilt, whether accidentally or otherwise.

This protection is included in a person’s Miranda Rights, which law enforcement must verbally inform a suspect or person being interrogated of during an arrest or interrogation.

The “Takings Clause”

This clause of the Fifth Amendment allows for the balance of private property and the use of public property for public benefit. If the government takes private property, the private property owner must be justly compensated.


Affording American citizens all these protections, the Fifth Amendment is an important element within our Constitution and the Bill of Rights.



With offices in Lake Havasu City and Scottsdale, our firm serves the entire state of Arizona, with a particular focus on criminal defense, family law, and juvenile cases.

Our goal is for the best outcome for your criminal case, which can include:

  • charges that are reduced or dropped.
  • top experts reviewing your case.
  • aggressive negotiations with the prosecution for plea bargains.
  • fines or probation in lieu of jail time.

At Rideout Law Group, our attorneys are able to expertly examine the evidence in your case to provide a strong strategy for argument that leads to an outcome that is most favorable to you. We have experience in all types of criminal cases for both adults and juveniles, with positive outcomes both in plea negotiations as well as jury trial settings.

Call us today for a free consultation at 480-584-3328.

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