The Fifth Amendment is described as an amendment in the U.S. Constitution, which outlines some rights of accused persons, or of people whose statements might make them be accused of a crime. It forms part of the “Bill of rights.” The Fifth Amendment comprises of many rights. Some of these include; the exclusion of double jeopardy and right to freedom unless the accused is charged by a panel of judges.
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Other provisions are the rights to due process and the right to avoid testifying against one’s self. Even though the Fifth and the Sixth amendment may seem similar in some features, they have differences when it comes to the rights of accused persons. While the Fifth Amendment applies to the rights of the accused to an attorney during interrogation, the Sixth Amendment is applicable after the indictment.
The Fifth Amendment allows lawyers to help the accused person during custodial questioning by the law enforcement agents.
Conversely, the Sixth Amendment warrants an officially charged perpetrator a right to an attorney that protects him or her from government attempts to intentionally draw from him convicting information about the accused subject. Both rights to an attorney may be put aside if the defendant is directed about and understands his or her rights in that case (Acker & Brody, 2013).
The Sixth Amendment comprises of five values that influence the rights of a suspect in the process of prosecution. These include the right to prompt and open trial, the right to information about the charges, the right to allow witness participation in the due process, and the right to representation by a lawyer. Equally, the Fifth (through Miranda) and the Sixth Amendments give the rights to counsel to the respondent.
However, the Fifth Amendment can be viewed as more expedient since it allows full participation of the defendant in the prosecution process. The fact that the defendant is given a right to an attorney during interrogation provides him or her with a better opportunity to present his or her case, protecting the defendant from the unfair ruling.
According to White (2001), self-incrimination involves accusing oneself of an offense for which an individual can then be charged in court. An example of self-incrimination was illustrated in the case of “Miranda vs. Arizona” in 1996. In this case, Miranda was accused of kidnapping and rape. The police interrogated him for two hours after the arrest, which leads to a signed, transcribed confession.
This was used against him in court, and he was charged for the offenses. The court ruling in the Miranda case was that, before police interrogation, the accused must be warned that they are entitled to remain silent, consult their lawyer, and any statement they make can be used against them in court. This decision protects the right of a suspect against self-incrimination.
Presently, the Fifth Amendment in the U.S. Constitution protects citizens from self-incrimination. Without protection against self-incrimination, police officers can take advantage of the accused persons. They may force a suspect to confess simply to accelerate the investigations. The accused person may not be able to escape investigations and may be coerced into giving incorrect confessions.
This can jeopardize the rights of citizens if the information they give is used against them in court when they did not commit those crimes. The Miranda decision improved the criminal justice system because it formed the basis for the Fifth Amendment. This protects the rights of citizens against self-incrimination.
Acker, R., & Brody, D. (2013). Criminal procedure: A contemporary perspective. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
White, S. (2001). Miranda’s waning protections: Police interrogation practices after Dickerson. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.