Constitution Countdown: Fifth Amendment

Photo by Andre Rowlett.

The Constitution Day, September 17, is the anniversary of the day in 1787 when the United States Constitution was signed. Though the Bill of Rights was not ratified until 1791, Sidelines will be breaking down one of the first ten amendments each day between now and September 17.

The 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 in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence 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.

The Meaning:

The fifth amendment provides citizens with the right to withhold private or incriminating information, with exceptions in the military, in a court of law.

The Effect:


The fifth amendment protects citizens from having to disclose information that would harm themselves or others. Through the fifth amendment’s protections, citizens are allowed a certain privacy and not forced to expose information in court, except in specified instances.

For more Constitution Countdown, follow us at, on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter at @MTSUSidelines.

To contact news editor Sarah Grace Taylor, email

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