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Home > History > Amendment 5 - United States Constitution Interactive

Amendment 5 - United States Constitution Interactive

This page provides the text and interpreted text of the 5th Amendment of the United States Constitution. It is part of our interactive Constitution.

U.S. Constitution Stamp

Stamp commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Constitution

What does it Say?

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.

What does it Mean?

The Fifth Amendment guarantees a variety of rights:

First, individuals suspected in capital crimes (murder, treason etc.) cannot be made to stand trial for a crime unless a grand jury (a panel of 23 people gathered to hear evidence from a prosecutor) issues an indictment (a document charging an individual with a crime), unless during times of war or times in which the general public may not be safe.

Second, a person who has been on trial cannot be made to stand trial again for the same crime (double jeopardy).

Third, individuals on trial cannot be made to be witnesses against themselves. Furthermore, witnesses can "plead the fifth," or, refuse to answer a prosecutor's question, if the answer may prove incriminating (suggesting guilt).

Fourth, individuals cannot be punished for supposed crimes without due process (administration of justice).

Fifth, private property may not be taken away from individuals by the government or state without fair compensation. The government and state however, can confiscate private property by claiming Eminent Domain. Eminent Domain is usually invoked so that private land can be used for development or for other public uses. If Eminent Domain is invoked, fair compensation must be made.

 

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