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Twining v. New Jersey

    Brief Fact Summary. New Jersey’s law providing that a jury may draw an unfavorable inference from a criminal defendant’s failure to testify was challenged under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. Certain provisions of the Bill of Rights may apply to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause, if the provisions are necessary for the due process of law.

    Facts. A New Jersey law provided that a jury may be instructed to view a criminal defendant’s failure to testify as something negative. New Jersey was one of the few states that did not incorporate in its constitution the right against compelled self-incrimination. The Defendant, Twining (Defendant), challenged the law under both the Due Process Clause and the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution (Constitution).

    Issue. Does the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution make the right against self-incrimination applicable to the States?

    Held. No, provisions of the Bill of Rights may apply to the states if they are part of the Due Process of Law.

    Discussion. The exemption from compulsory testimony was included in the Bill of Rights, but not in the body of the Constitution. The right is included in every state’s constitution besides Iowa and New Jersey, but they both include the rights in their laws. The Defendant contends that the compulsory testimony, self-incrimination, was a denial of the due process of law.
    Although provisions of the Bill of Rights are applicable to the States if the provisions are incorporated into the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution, this right of self-incrimination is not.


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