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The Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination is limited to criminal matters, but it is as broad as the mischief against which it seeks to guard.
Appellant challenged the denial of his application for a writ of habeas corpus and the lower court's finding of contempt in a grand jury proceeding. During the grand jury proceeding, appellant refused to answer several questions and invoked the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The lower court held that the Fifth Amendment right applied only to criminal cases. Further, the court found Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 860 was co-extensive with the constitution and protected him from prosecution. Since he was protected from prosecution, he could not invoke the Fifth Amendment, and he had to cooperate with the investigation by answering the questions.
Does the privilege given by the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution that no person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself extend to a proceeding before a grand jury?
The Court found that a grand jury investigation was a criminal case, and appellant could invoke the Fifth Amendment. The Court further found that ch. 860 was not co-extensive with the Fifth Amendment, and that congressional legislation could not amend the constitution or minimize its protections.