The First Freedoms
The Privacy Amendments
The 5th Amendment
The 6th Amendment
Civil Trials
The Interpretive Rules

Grand Juries, Double Jeopardy, and Self-Incrimination

Summary: Grand Juries, Double Jeopardy, and Self-Incrimination

The rights named in the first half of the 5th Amendment—grand jury indictments and prohibitions on double jeopardy and self-incrimination—all represent venerable and longstanding protections for the accused at every stage of criminal proceedings. The right of a Grand Jury indictment protects the accused before a trial has even begun: it prevents a prosecutor from bringing a suspect to trial based on flimsy evidence. The prohibition on self-incrimination protects a defendant both before and during a trial: it protects his “right to remain silent”; he cannot be forced to act as “a witness against himself.” And the Double Jeopardy clause protects the accused after a trial has been concluded: it ensures that he will never have to face a second trial for the same crime. Taken together, they represent the Anglo-American belief that every person should be treated with respect, even those accused of committing terrible crimes.