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Privilege against Self-Incrimination

Witness Privilege, Criminal Defendant Privilege

The privilege against self-incrimination forbids the government from compelling any person to give testimonial evidence that would likely incriminate him or her during a subsequent criminal case. This right enables a defendant to refuse to testify at a criminal trial and, according to the U.S. Supreme Court, "privileges him not to answer official questions put to him in any other proceeding, civil or criminal, formal or informal, where the answers might incriminate him in future criminal proceedings." Lefkowitz v. Turley, 414 U.S. 70, 94 S. Ct. 316, 38 L. Ed. 2d 274 (1973).

Confessions, admissions, and other statements taken from defendants in violation of this right are inadmissible against them during a criminal prosecution. Convictions based on statements taken in violation of the right against SELF-INCRIMINATION normally are overturned on appeal, unless sufficient admissible evidence is available to support the verdict. The right against self-incrimination may only be asserted by persons and does not protect artificial entities such as corporations. Doe v. United States, 487 U.S. 201, 108 S. Ct. 2341, 101 L. Ed. 2d 184 (1988).

FURTHER READINGS

"Criminal Law and Procedure; Privilege Against Compelled Self-Incrimination." 1994. SMH Bar Review.

"Evidence; Self-Incriminating Testimony." 1994. SMH Bar Review.

"Self-Incrimination." 2002. Harvard Law Review 302.

Additional topics

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