Americapedia

Fifth Amendment: Right Against Self-Incrimination (1791)

The government cannot force citizens to testify against themselves. By allowing people to refuse to answer questions that might make them seem guilty, the Fifth Amendment resolves the conflict between defending oneself and telling the truth. This protection has its roots in British legal tradition, as noted by Blackstone in Commentaries on the Laws of England. The Virginia Declaration of Rights also included protection from self-incrimination.

In the landmark Supreme Court case Miranda v. Arizona (1966), the Court held that the police must inform suspects of their Fifth Amendment right to refuse to answer questions or any subsequent confessions will be inadmissible at trial.