SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) – The Fifth Amendment became symbolic of defendant protection because of the familiar right to "plead the Fifth.''
But that is just one right guaranteed in a multi-faceted amendment that starts to lay the framework for the entire U.S. legal system.
Inspired by similar provisions of English Common Law, the Fifth also provides the right to due process, protection from double jeopardy and establishes compensation for private property taken for public use under its eminent domain clause.
"The Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination, it's not so unique now, but it was very unique back then,'' said Donnie Dixon, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. "It came as a result of the old country or countries use of whatever means necessary to obtain confessions or statements. And now, of course, you cannot be compelled to do that under the U.S. Constitution.''
Although the Fifth Amendment was ratified with the rest of the Bill of Rights in 1791, it wasn't until 175 years later that the well-known Miranda Rights to not answer self-incriminating questions by police were created.