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Andresen v. Maryland

    Brief Fact Summary. State authorities obtained search warrants to search the defendant, Andreson’s (the “defendant”) law office, for papers evidencing a fraudulent sale of land.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. The Fifth Amendment’s protections against self-incrimination do not apply to information obtained from papers or other documents which are properly seized.

    Facts. Government officials obtained a search warrant of the defendant’s law office for specified documents related to a fraudulent sale of land. The officials found the documents when executing the warrant and the evidence was used to convict the defendant at trial.

    Issue. Does the Fifth Amendment’s protection against self-incrimination apply to incriminating papers which have been seized by law enforcement and have been subsequently admitted into evidence at trial?

    Held. The Fifth Amendment’s protections against self-incrimination protects individuals from complying with a subpoena for the production of incriminating evidence, however, it does not prevent the same materials from being properly seized by law enforcement and subsequently being admitted at trial.

    Dissent. Search and seizure includes elements of compulsion which constitute part of the essence of the Fifth Amendment. The forcible compulsion of both a person’s private papers and testimony are within the protection of the Fifth Amendment.

    Discussion. The lawful seizure of a person’s business records, or other documents which contain incriminating information, does not undermine the protections of the Fifth Amendment. Compelled self-incriminating testimony is protected by the Fifth Amendment.


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