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Report No. 87

II. Self-incrimination in U.S.A.

Origin of the privilege against self-incrimination.- The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that no person "shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself". Similar guarantees are embodied in the Constitutions of every State, except Iowa and New Jersey. Iowa has read the privilege into its "due process clause" and New Jersey has adopted it by statute.1-2

The privilege against self-incrimination in the United States is universally interpreted as protecting the accused from compulsion to testify against himself by a threat of the contempt power.3

Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920 Back

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