Understanding the Fifth Amendment: An Overview

Lawyer discussing the fifth amendment to the law studentsA man in handcuffs sits in the middle of a bleak, interrogation room. A detective comes bursting through the door, hurls a close-up of the dead victim in front of the man and starts shouting profanities at him. He grabs the man by his collar and threatens him that he will rot in jail, never to see his family again, if he doesn’t start talking. The man retorts with a snide remark.

If you watch cop shows or legal dramas, then you’re probably familiar with this scene. However, most of those working in law enforcement would agree that’s just fodder for television. In the real world, police officers, district attorneys or any legal authority for that matter cannot force a confession out of a suspect through intimidation. The reason is simply that everyone is protected by the Bill of Rights, particularly, the Fifth Amendment.

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You’ll know more about the concept when you enroll in a criminal investigation training course. Companies with this program offer legal studies in partnership with leading universities and colleges across the country. Meanwhile, here’s an overview.

What exactly is the Fifth Amendment?

The Fifth Amendment is a set of conditions under the Bill of Rights that protects any person from being wrongly tried or prosecuted. Specifically, this means that anyone cannot be prosecuted without formal charges being lodged against them. The Fifth Amendment also mandates police officers to inform suspects of their “Miranda” rights (that famous line uttered by policemen and women: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can or will be used against you.”).

According to the book “Key Terms and Concepts for Investigation: A Reference for Criminal, Private, and Military Investigators,” the Fifth Amendment protects persons from “arbitrary government actions” that could result in loss of property (without just compensation), freedom, and life. Cornell Law School’s website further elaborates on this, emphasizing a person’s “right to a fair trial” and that he or she cannot be forced to do or share information against his or will because it is unlawful. Cases can be dismissed if it has been found that the defendant’s Fifth Amendment right was violated.