Gov: Fifth Sixth and Seventh Amendment Rights


Amendment 5
The Fifth Amendment protects your rights when accused of a crime. If you seen an arrest depicted on television or the movies, you have probably heard the words, “You have the right to remain silent.” These words are based on the Fifth AMendment, which protects individuals from self-incrimination or saying anything that might imply their own guilt.

In Miranda v. Arizona, the Court set forth a procedure for ensuring that suspects know their rights. The procedure explained in the opinion says, “Prior to any questioning, the person must be warned that h has the right to remain silent, that any statement he does make may be used as evidence against him, and that he has a right to the presence of an attorney.”

The Fifth Amendment protects other rights as well. It says that no one shall be subjected to double jeopardy. This means that if a person is tried for a crime and found not guilty, prosecutors cannot try that person again for the same crime. It also states that no one may be “deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” This protection, also known as the Due Process Clause, also appears in the Fourteenth Amendment.

The Fifth Amendment also contains the Takings Clause. It says that the government may not take private property for public use “without just compensation.” Government may exercise a power known as eminent domain to secure private property for public purpose, such as the construction of a road. But it must pay a fair price for the property.

Amendment 6
The Sixth Amendment explains how criminal trials should be conducted to protect the rights of the accused.

Amendment 7
The Seventh Amendments guarantees trial by jury in most civil lawsuits, Civil cases are those that do not involve criminal matters. The Sixth Amendment says that criminal trials must be carried out quickly, publicly, and in front of an impartial jury. The defendant has the right to legal counsel and to see all the evidence used in the trial.

In Gideon v. Wainwright, a poor, uneducated ex-convict who was arrested for theft in Florida. Unable to afford an attorney, Gideon asked the court to provide him free legal counsel. Because Florida courts provided such services only in death penalty cases, the judge turned him down. Gideon was found guilty and sentenced to five years in prison. While in prison, Gideon educated himself on his legal rights and filed an appeal. The Supreme Court justices sided with Gideon, arguing that the Sixth Amendment guarantee of legal counsel should not depend on the defendant’s ability to pay.

Sometimes a defendant’s Sixth Amendment rights come into conflict with other rights and liberties. For example, freedom of the press is a key civil liberty and the news have a right to cover public trials. However, if this coverage affects a trial’s outcome, the accused may be denied due process of law. This was the issue before the Court in the case of Sheppard v. Maxwell. Sheppard’s wife was murdered at the couple’s home. Sheppard claimed that an armed intruder had knocked him unconscious and killed his wife. Throughout the trial, the press covered the story and in a manner that implied Sheppard’s guilt. Sheppard appealed his conviction arguing that biased press coverage prevented him from getting a fair trial. The Court overturned the murder conviction agreeing that coverage of the trial had “inflamed and prejudiced the public.” Although the Court acknowledged the media’s First Amendment rights, it said that press coverage should not be allowed to interfere with a defendant’s right to due process. In cases where intense media coverage might unfairly influence a trial, the trial should be moved to another location or the jury should be isolated from all news coverage.

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