The Bill of Rights: Part 4

borContinuing with the rights the government has provided for every American citizen, we have the 5th and 6th amendments, which we know from the “Miranda Rights”.

The 5th 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 or a 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.”

This is represented in the phrase “I plead the 5th.” “You have the right to remain silent; anything you say can and will be used against you in the court of law.” This liberty is here so that cannot be coerced into pleading guilty to something you didn’t do. It protects also against self-incrimination as a safe way of saying “I neither did nor didn’t do what you’re accusing me of.” It also give a partial basis for the military courts, giving a separate distinction towards them, saying military officers, unless they are relieved of duty or retired, cannot be tried in a civilian court. What this also says is that to “people”, or the prosecutor, cannot indict you on the same case once proven innocent. So, say someone is going to court under the charge of 1st degree murder, and there is evidence to prove he’s guilty, but still the defendant is deemed not guilty by the jury. Later, there is very useful evidence that surfaces that proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty. The “people” cannot indict him under the same charges and cannot bring up the previous case (watch any Law and Order show). A defendant, not matter how guilty they may be, cannot be sent to court against the same charges in the same case, no matter what evidence is presented. They would have to go back under a different case or charge. Another thing that you’re protected from is having to testify against yourself; you only will if you give up this liberty and it would help further your case. Subsequently, your property cannot be taken and used as evidence in a case unless both sides are aware of its use; if it’s not, then the evidence is inadmissible and will not be used.

The 5th amendment can also be used in Congressional Court hearing, as we have seen Former IRS commissioner Lois Lerner in her targeting of the Tea Party and other conservative groups. For those who watch House of Cards, Raymond Tusk used the 5th amendment to escape conviction which would lead to prison time. It is a common phrase and amendment sited when one is certainly guilty, but will not admit it because of the effect of being guilty.

The 6th Amendment:

“In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously, ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his [or her] favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.”

So translated, you have the right to a fast, public trial by jury of your peers, you’ll be told of the crime that you committed and how, you will know the witnesses testifying against you and have a chance to use them in your testimony, you’ll be able to have witnesses for your own defense, as just as well, you will have the right to an attorney. “You have the right to an attorney; if you cannot afford one, one will be appointed to you.” Since Gideon v. Wainwright, everybody, even those will court deemed “special circumstances”, is to have an attorney appointed to them by the state they’re being accused in. The only reason why a person would decline and not have someone represent them is if they 1) decline and 2) are mentally competent enough to represent themselves as their own attorney as deemed by the presiding court justice on the case.

If you feel that your trial is taking too long in between sessions or having the case be resolved, you can call for the case to be dropped on account of your 6th amendment right to a speedy trial. The court will then see if the motion can be carried based on: the length of the delay(s), the reason(s) for the delay(s), time and manner in which the defendant is asserting his rights, and the degree of prejudice to the defendant to cause the delay(s). Only if all four criteria warrant it will the case be dropped.

There have been few cases where the defendant and their counsel or even prosecutor feels the jury is too bias and/or partial to a certain outcome, in which case, either side can call for a postponement of the case for an impartial jury. Typically, jurors are called in based in different parts of the community to produce the most unanimous and impartial jury possible, but there are always exceptions.

If you and your counsel aren’t told of the crime you’re being accused of until you are in the courtroom hearing, then you can produce a motion to cancel based on your 6th amendment right. If you and your counsel aren’t told of the witnesses and evidence being used against the accused, they’re inadmissible and cannot be used. Both sides have to be aware of what is being used in order to use both to their advantage and to the others disadvantage.


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