The Fifth Amendment (Amendment V) to the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights and protects against abuse of government authority.
The Amendment requires that felonies be tried only upon indictment by a grand jury; the Grand Jury Clause is one of the few provisions of the Bill of Rights not held to have been incorporated to the states, most of which have replaced grand juries. The Amendment also provides several trial protections, including the right against self-incrimination (held to also apply to custodial interrogations and before most government bodies) as well as the right to be tried only once (“double jeopardy”) in federal court for the same offense. The Amendment also has a Due Process Clause (similar to the one in the 14th Amendment) as well as an implied equal protection requirement (Bolling v. Sharpe). Finally, the Amendment requires that the power of eminent domain be coupled with “just compensation” for those whose property is taken.
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.
Whether a crime is “infamous” is determined by the nature of the punishment that may be imposed, not the punishment that is actually imposed; however, crimes punishable by death must be tried upon indictments. In United States v. Moreland, 258 U.S. 433 (1922), the Supreme Court held that incarceration in a prison or penitentiary, as opposed to a correction or reformation house, attaches infamy to a crime. In Mackin v. United States, 117 U.S. 348 (1886), the Supreme Court judged that “‘Infamous crimes’ are thus, in the most explicit words, defined to be those ‘punishable by imprisonment in the penitentiary.’”, while it later in Green v. United States 356 U.S. 165 (1957), stated that “imprisonment in a penitentiary can be imposed only if a crime is subject to imprisonment exceeding one year”. Therefore an infamous crime is one that is punished by imprisonment for over one year. Susan Brown, a former defense attorney and Professor of Law at the University of Dayton School of Law, concluded: “Since this is essentially the definition of a felony, infamous crimes translate as felonies.”
Grand juries, which return indictments in many criminal cases, are composed of a jury of peers and operate in closed deliberation proceedings; they are given specific instructions regarding the law by the judge. Many constitutional restrictions that apply in court or in other situations do not apply during grand jury proceedings. For example, the exclusionary rule does not apply to certain evidence presented to a grand jury; the exclusionary rule states that evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth, Fifth or Sixth amendments cannot be introduced in court. Also, an individual does not have the right to have an attorney present in the grand jury room during hearings. An individual would have such a right during questioning by the police while in custody, but an individual testifying before a grand jury is free to leave the grand jury room to consult with his or her attorney outside the room before returning to answer a question.
Currently, federal law permits the trial of misdemeanors without indictments. Additionally, in trials of non-capital felonies, the prosecution may proceed without indictments if the defendants waive their Fifth Amendment right.
Grand jury indictments may be amended by the prosecution only in limited circumstances. In Ex Parte Bain, 121 U.S. 1 (1887), the Supreme Court held that the indictment could not be changed at all by the prosecution. United States v. Miller, 471 U.S. 130 (1985) partly reversed Ex parte Bain; now, an indictment’s scope may be narrowed by the prosecution. Thus, lesser included charges may be dropped, but new charges may not be added.
The Grand Jury Clause of the Fifth Amendment does not protect those serving in the armed forces, whether during wartime or peacetime. Members of the state militia called up to serve with federal forces are not protected under the clause either. In O’Callahan v. Parker, 395 U.S. 258 (1969), the Supreme Court held that only charges relating to service may be brought against members of the militia without indictments. That decision was overturned in 1987, when the Court held that members of the militia in actual service may be tried for any offense without indictments.
The grand jury indictment clause of the Fifth Amendment has not been incorporated under the Fourteenth Amendment. This means that the grand jury requirement applies only to felony charges in the federal court system. While many states do employ grand juries, no defendant has a Fifth Amendment right to a grand jury for criminal charges in state court. States are free to abolish grand juries, and many (though not all) have replaced them with preliminary hearing.
The Double Jeopardy Clause encompasses four distinct prohibitions: subsequent prosecution after acquittal, subsequent prosecution after conviction, subsequent prosecution after certain mistrials, and multiple punishment in the same indictment. Jeopardy “attaches” when the jury is empaneled in a jury trial, when the first witness is sworn in during a bench trial, or when a plea is accepted unconditionally.
Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution …