New York Attorney Nicholas Hicks explains your rights outlined in the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution addresses some of the protections afforded to citizens accused of crimes. Deeply rooted in English common law, this Amendment attempts to protect an accused person from being forced by the Government to provide ‘testimony’ against him/herself.
Lawyer Nicholas Hicks of New York explains the Fifth Amendment in order to help citizens understand their rights.
When someone ‘pleads the Fifth’, or otherwise exercises their rights under the Fifth, they are using this right to remain silent against certain kinds of questioning by the Government (i.e., police, prosecutors or any arm of law enforcement).
Under the Fifth Amendment, there is an additional protection against ‘double jeopardy’. Lawyer Nicholas Hicks explains that once a person has been tried for an offense, whatever the outcome, they cannot be charged or tried again with the same offense, even if new incriminating evidence is found after the trial. This protects people from being forced into court repeatedly to defend themselves. However the exception to the ‘double jeopardy’ rule is that the State and Federal Goverments are considered two separate entities. Which is to say, that a person could be found ‘not guilty’ in State Court, but then tried again in Federal Court with the same or similar charges, (e.g., the officers in the Rodney King beating case). This occurrence is not considered ‘double jeopardy’ under the law.
Also included in the Fifth is a person’s right to legal counsel during interrogation. The accused party can request an attorney be present when speaking with the police or any person associated with law enforcement. Every person must also be read their ‘Miranda Warnings’ upon being questioned by law enforcement, (questioning evokes this right not the arrest). Failure to warn a person of their Miranda rights could result in any resulting statements being thrown out of court. Lawyer Nicholas Hicks stresses the importance of exercising your right to counsel before speaking with law enforcement.
Finally, Attorney Nicholas Hicks reminds us, that when a police officer says “anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law”, remember that in fact it will be used against you. So protect yourself by remaining silent until you have a lawyer present.
Contact an attorney right away if you need to discuss your rights in a criminal situation.
About Nicholas Hicks:
Starting from an early age, Nicholas Hicks was rescued from NYC foster care at the age of 5 years old. Nicholas Hicks attended both public and private schools where he eventually graduated from ECC, UB & UB Law School.