6. Fourth, Fifth, Sixth Amendment Rights + Juvenile Justice

Overview This section contains resources focusing on the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments, and resources focusing on Juvenile Justice.

The Fourth Amendment protects the rights of the people in their persons, houses, papers and effects from unreasonable government searches and seizures, and generally requires a warrant issued by a judge, supported by probable cause, particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized. The Fourth Amendment had its origins as a reaction to general warrants and writs of assistance, used by the British to interrogate colonists concerning goods otherwise subject to customs tax, and to search homes for goods as to which the tax had not been paid. Its application to today’s socially-networked world is increasingly complex.

The Fifth Amendment prohibits the government from requiring a person to testify against himself or herself.  It also requires that the government obtain an indictment from a grand jury prior to trying a person for a capital or felony offense and bars a person from being tried twice for the same criminal offense.  Finally, it provides that a person’s life, liberty or property cannot be taken by the government without due process and that private property cannot be taken for public use without just compensation.

The Sixth Amendment deals with trial rights for a person accused of a crime. It guarantees a defendant the right to grand jury indictment for certain crimes, the right to know the charges brought against him or her, a speedy and public trial, the right to an impartial jury,  the right to confront his or her accusers, the right to subpoena witnesses to testify at trial and the right to counsel. 

The Juvenile Justice System, as a separate court system, began in earnest in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s as a means of dealing with juvenile offenders in way different from the adult system, with the belief that a separate system that focused on rehabilitation rather than punishment could change juvenile offenders. Procedures were adopted that often provided fewer protections for juveniles than are guaranteed for adult defendants.  In the 1960’s, in response to reports of abuse, the Supreme Court began expanding due process rights to juveniles charged with criminal acts.

Learning Objectives |  Students will learn the key language and concepts relating to these rights:
  • Students will become familiar with the Fourth Amendment, including what constitutes a seizure, when a search or seizure is unreasonable, and when a warrant may be required. 
  • Students will become familiar with the Fifth Amendment, including the protections they are guaranteed before they can be convicted of a crime.
  • Students will become familiar with the Sixth Amendment, including the right of an accused to confront his or her accuser, the right to counsel, and the importance of a "public" trial and some of the social costs that adherence to this principle can create. 
  • Students will become familiar with the Juvenile Justice System, including the development of the juvenile justice system and expansion of due process rights for juveniles and differences between adult and juvenile justice systems. 
    • Even apart from the criminal justice system, juveniles receive fewer legal protections than adults. Students will also learn about censorship of student publications, searches of lockers and drug testing of students, and limitations on due process in school disciplinary proceedings.

Summary of Resources Below is the list of resources gathered in this section.  Click on the titles to learn more. 

Resources |   
  1. An Act of Courage: The Arrest Records of Rosa Parks 
    • Using original documents, judges can help middle and high school students study the arrest records of famed Civil Rights leader Rosa Parks to understand the segregation laws of Montgomery, Alabama in the 1950s.  This lesson plan provokes group discussion and creates a classroom environment where students must work together in order to fully understand what Rosa Parks accomplished and how laws have since changed.
    • Lesson Plan from the National Archives 
    • Age: M, H
  2. Balancing Free Speech and Fair Trial 
    • This simulation can be used with high school students to show them the tensions between the First and Sixth Amendment protections through a fictional case that pits a criminal defendant's constitutional right to a fair trial against the constitutional rights to free speech of relatives of an alleged victim.
    • Lesson Plan from the Administrative Office 
    • Age: H
  3. Courts in the Classroom
    • This webpage hosts three series of videos targeted to older primary and middle school audiences:  a series on The Big Ideas, with videos on Privacy, Free Expression, Symbolic Speech, Censorship, Courts, Due Process, Laws, Checks and Balances; The Third Branch, with two videos titled  About Judges and about Courts; and Landmark Cases, with videos on the  First, Fourth, Fourteenth Amendments and Checks and Balances.  The webpage also has quizzes, a resources guide for teachers, and related lesson plans. 
    • Videos from the Judicial Council of California and the Administrative Office 
    • Age: P, M (H)
  1. Dialogue on Youth and Justice
    • This 19-page document can be used by teachers to structure presentations on three subjects: the development of the juvenile justice system; the question of whether juveniles should ever be treated as adults; and  the extent of the reach of the Bill of Rights to students and juveniles, with a focus on the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments.  
    • Lesson Plan from the American Bar Association  
    • Age: H, A
  2. Interactive Guide to the Sixth Amendment
    • Judges can use this brief interactive guide to the Sixth Amendment with a high school audience to help them understand the key concepts of the text.  Each highlighted word in the Amendment opens up to a video where U.S. District Court Judge Cynthia M. Rufe explains the meaning and context of that specific word.
    • Interactive document from the Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics 
    • Age: (M), H
  3. Teen House Party Search
    • Judges interested in teaching the Fourth Amendment “knock and announce” decision of the Supreme Court to a high school or college audience could use this resource, which includes simulations of a motion hearing and witness examinations stemming from a search at a fictional high school house party.  A discussion of Hudson v. Michigan adds context.
    • Lesson Plan from the Administrative Office 
    • Age: H, A