Break the Silence

When was the last time you really wanted (or needed) to say something, but kept quiet? Write a post about what you should’ve said.

I shall plead the 5th on this prompt! I shall not incriminate myself with a response to this prompt…however, how about a little lesson on what pleading the 5th is all about.

All amendments are part of the U.S. Constitution, however, the first 10 amendments make up the Bill of Rights. Here is an article that will explain all ten amendments. The 5th, shown below, is what gives every American the right not to testify against themselves.

Fifth Amendment

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 offense 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 Fifth Amendment protects against double jeopardy and self-incrimination and guarantees the rights to due process, grand jury screening of criminal indictments, and compensation for the seizure of private property under eminent domain. The amendment was the basis for the court’s decision in Miranda v. Arizona (1966), which established that defendants must be informed of their rights to an attorney and against self-incrimination prior to interrogation by police.

Some other “privileges” are similar in which certain people do not need to testify if that testimony would incriminate the one on trial. Doctor-client, and attorney-client privilege are probably the most well known.

Another pretty well-known includes public interest privilege (formerly Crown privilege, protecting documents for which secrecy is necessary for the proper functioning of government). This one reminds me of the recent “Snowden” case, but other, such as Watergate also would fall under this. We saw this privilege a lot during the Lehman Brothers collapse/scandal, which led to the economic downfall of 2008.

Marital privilege, in which a spouse doesn’t have to testify against their spouse is another one heard often. Although no spouse is kept from testifying against the other, they do not have too. This however is an all or nothing, whereas other types of privilege can be selective to each question being asked.

Clergy–penitent privilege stems from the right of being able to confess to your clergy without having that testimony used against you. Because there is religious freedom in the United States (and that is protected by the first amendment), and part of that freedom is confession, the clergy-penitent privilege is for all religions and clergy.



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