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

Grand Juries, Double Jeopardy, and Self-Incrimination

Historical Background

Courts Martial

In the years following the American Revolution, grand juries, and the importance of guaranteeing them in a constitution, were by no means universally accepted. Only four state constitutions provided for grand juries at the time that the Bill of Rights was being drafted. On the other hand, three states—Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New York—all formally requested that the United States Constitution be amended to guarantee grand jury indictments.

All of the states that wanted a grand jury guarantee in the Constitution had made exceptions for military trials, called courts-martial. The military has long had its own justice system with its own rules, a practice which continues to this day.