Fifth Amendment Limitations

Fifth Amendment Limitations

Learn about how the Fifth Amendment's guarantees against self-incrimination limit agency actions, especially subpoenas.


The Fifth Amendment provides that individuals can’t be compelled to be witnesses against themselves in a criminal case. Although the amendment’s language speaks only to testimony in criminal cases, the United States Supreme Court has interpreted the amendment broadly to apply in other circumstances.

I.     Applicability Outside Criminal Cases

First, individuals may invoke the Fifth Amendment to avoid giving information in a civil case if the information could be used to...