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15 January, 2016 - 09:31

The Fifth Amendment is also the source of a person’s right against self-incrimination (no person “shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself”). The debate over the limits of this right has given rise to an immense literature. In broadest outline, the right against self-incrimination means that the prosecutor may not call a defendant to the witness stand during trial and may not comment to the jury on the defendant’s failure to take the stand. Moreover, a defendant’s confession must be excluded from evidence if it was not voluntarily made (e.g., if the police beat the person into giving a confession). In Miranda v. Arizona, the Supreme Court ruled that no confession is admissible if the police have not first advised a suspect of his constitutional rights, including the right to have a lawyer present to advise him during the questioning. 1These so-called Miranda warnings have prompted scores of follow-up cases that have made this branch of jurisprudence especially complex.