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Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in Two 5th Amendment Cases

April 6, 2018, on Criminal Investigations |

An Albany criminal defense lawyer can provide you with legal assistance if you are under investigation for allegedly committing a criminal offense.

When you have been accused of committing a crime, you need to understand how the constitution works to protect you. One of the most important constitutional amendments for those navigating the justice system is the Fifth Amendment.  The Fifth Amendment provides protection against prosecution or conviction without due process; provides protection from being tried for the same offense twice; and prevents unlawful seizure of property by the state without compensation.

While the Fifth Amendment should provide strong protections for defendants accused of wrongdoing, sometimes actions are taken by investigators, prosecutors, or lawmakers that undermine the Fifth Amendment protections that are supposed to be in place. When this occurs, legal challenges are often raised and the courts may be asked to decide on the limits of the Fifth Amendment and on whether the rights of defendants were violated.

There are currently several cases right now in which there are questions about the scope and application of the Fifth Amendment which have made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

What Arguments Were Raised in the Two Cases?

One of the Fifth Amendment cases that the Supreme Court will decide relates to the application of the double jeopardy clause that prevents someone from being tried twice for the same offense. The case centers around a defendant who was on trial for breaking and entering and grand larceny. He was acquitted of both of these charges. However, he was subsequently found guilty of possession of a firearm after being convicted of a felony – a charge which resulted from the same facts of the crimes he'd been acquitted for. 

The defendant argues that Double Jeopardy prevented the second case from going forward since he'd been previously acquitted, but the Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction because there is a divide in the courts regarding what happens when criminal charges are severed so a defendant is prosecuted separately for different charges and an issue is resolved in one of the severed cases but is not yet resolved in the other.

In the other Fifth Amendment case, a police officer admitted to taking a knife from work, resulting in an investigation. The question at issue in this particular case relates to whether the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination was violated by the use of statements that the defendant made at the probable cause hearing.

It is unclear what decisions the U.S. Supreme Court will come to regarding the application of the Fifth Amendment to these particular cases. What is clear is that it is imperative for any defendant accused of wrongdoing to be vigilant in protecting his or her rights throughout the process of an investigation and any criminal proceedings.

Hiring an Albany criminal defense lawyer can be the best way for a defendant or accused individual to protect his or her rights, since an attorney can provide advice and guidance throughout the case and can take swift action to challenge any Fifth Amendment violations. To find out more about how an attorney can help you, give us a call today.

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