Bill of Rights

Topics: Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, United States Constitution, Double jeopardy Pages: 7 (2749 words) Published: January 30, 2007
Bill of Rights Paper
University of Phoenix

The first 10 Amendments to the US Constitution are known as the Bill of Rights. The Fifth Amendment relates to legal procedure. One of the clauses contained within this Amendment concerns the subject of double jeopardy. Our learning team selected double jeopardy as our area of focus. This document offers an analysis of the Founding Father's intent in providing the double jeopardy clause, a discussion of how double jeopardy protection has evolved through selected court decisions, and an evaluation of the modern day implications to individuals and society. The Fifth Amendment & Double Jeopardy

The Fifth Amendment (or Article V) of the US Constitution states that: 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. (Wikipedia, 2006)

The portion of the Fifth Amendment that reads "nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb" is known as the double jeopardy clause. Many people believe this clause merely protects people from being tried more than once for the same crime. The double jeopardy clause actually affords three separate protections: "protection from being retried for the same crime after an acquittal, protection from retrial after a conviction, and protection from being punished multiple times for the same offense" (Wikipedia2, 2006). Founding Father's Intent

To assess the Founding Father's intent in providing the Fifth Amendment and the double jeopardy clause, one needs to consider the country's climate at that time. America had recently fought and won independence from England. The Founding Fathers were arguably hyper sensitive to potential abuses of power on the part of government. In line with this assertion and according to Wikipedia2, the intent of the double jeopardy clause was "to limit prosecutorial abuse by the government in repeated prosecution for the same offense, as a means of harassment or oppression" (2006). The Founding Fathers wanted the rights of individuals to be clearly protected and spelled out in the Bill of Rights. Evolution & Selected Court Decisions

Double jeopardy protection under the Fifth Amendment has evolved over the years as the result of court decisions and interpretations. Amendments ratified after the Bill of Rights passed have also affected double jeopardy protection in America. Selected court cases dealing with double jeopardy are highlighted below. Palko v. Connecticut, 302 U.S. 319 (1937)

Frank Palko was a resident of Connecticut. In 1935, Palko broke into a music store, took a radio, and fled the scene. Chased and cornered by the police, Palko shot and killed two police officers and made his escape. The details of this case are as follows: Frank Palko had been charged with first-degree murder but was instead convicted of the lesser offense of second-degree murder and given a sentence of life imprisonment. Prosecutors appealed per Connecticut law and won a new trial, in which Palko was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to death. Palko appealed, arguing that the Fifth Amendment protection against double jeopardy applied to state governments through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. (Wikipedia3, 2006)

The US Supreme Court affirmed Palko's conviction and asserted "that only fundamental rights, those rights that are central to the concept of "ordered liberty", are protected under the Due...

References: BBC Online (2005, February 2). Double Jeopardy. Edited Guide ID: A3477972. Retrieved on April 24, 2006 from
FindLaw (n.d.). U.S. Supreme Court: Fong Foo v. United States, 369 U.S. 141 (1962). Cases & Codes. Retrieved on April 24, 2006 from
Les Benedict, M. (2003). Nevada and U.S. Constitutions. Custom Edition for University of Phoenix. Austin: TX. Leyh Publishing, LLC.
The Observer (2001). The Billy Dunlop case (1991). Retrieved April 24, 2006, from,6903,450011,00.html
Wikipedia (2006). Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved on May 8, 2006 from
Wikipedia2 (2006). Double Jeopardy. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved on May 8, 2006 from
Wikipedia3 (2006). Palko v. Connecticut. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved on May 8, 2006 from
Wikipedia4 (2006). Benton v. Maryland. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved on May 8, 2006 from
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