Amendment V

Amendment V – Due process and Taking

The Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution provides: “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 amendment requires indictment by Grand Jury for capital cases, prohibits double jeopardy and self-incrimination, requires due process for punishment, and compensation for the taking of property.

The amendment guarantees that no one has to stand trial for a capital crime without presentment or indictment by a grand jury.   A grand jury is a group of people selected to decide whether there is enough evidence against a person to hold a trial.

The amendment also protects a person from being tried twice for the same offense (See Double Jeopardy). But a second trial can be done if a jury cannot agree on a verdict, if a mistrial is declared for some reason, or if they request a new trial.

The amendment also provides for a right against self-incrimination.  No person can be compelled “to be a witness against himself” in any criminal case. It means that the prosecution must establish guilt by independent evidence and not by forcing a confession from the suspect.  But voluntary confessions are not precluded by the Amendment.

The amendment also provides for due process. The due process clause states that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property “without due process of law”.  It is one of the most important provisions of the Constitution.  The phrase reflects that the government must respect all the legal rights owed to a person.  Due Process Clause places procedural limitations on the exercise of governmental power by insisting that officials follow established procedures.  The courts use the due process rule to strike down laws that interfere with personal liberty.

The amendment also forbids the government to take a person’s property even for public use without fair payment.  The government’s right to take property for public use is called eminent domain.  Governments use it to acquire land for highways, schools, and other public facilities, but they must pay the owners just compensation.  The Takings Clause as it is called limits the power of eminent domain under which government can seize private property. The Government should provide compensation when it seizes a person’s property. Hence, the Fifth Amendment protects individuals against arbitrary punishment and confiscation of property.


Inside Amendment V