SW Legal Educational Publishing

Privilege Against Self-Incrimination Not International in Scope
Description Resident alien could not refuse to provide testimony about his activities during World War II because he feared prosecution by a foreign nation. There is no international application of the Fifth Amendment doctrine.
Topic Criminal Law
Key Words Self-Incrimination
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts When the Justice Department subpoenaed Balsys, a resident alien, to testify about his activities during World War II and his immigration to the U.S., he claimed the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination, based on his fear of prosecution by a foreign nation. The Second Circuit held that in such a case the witness could avoid testimony. Justice appealed.
Decision Reversed. The possibility of foreign prosecution is not a premise for claiming the self-incrimination privilege. There is no "cooperative internationalism" as there is "cooperative federalism," where state and federal law enforcement cooperate. While that could emerge, it is not an issue at present.
Citation United States v. Balsys, 118 S.Ct. 2218 (1998)

Back to Criminal Law Listings

©1998  South-Western, All Rights Reserved