Andresen v. Maryland Case Brief

Why is the case important?

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

Facts of the case

Question

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?

Answer

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.

Conclusion

The Supreme Court of the United States affirmed the Maryland appellate court’s judgment. The Court held that the search of Andresen’s offices for business records, their seizure, and subsequent introduction into evidence did not offend the Fifth Amendment’s proscription that no person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself. Although the records seized contained statements that Andresen voluntarily had committed to writing, he was never required to say anything. The search for and seizure of those records were conducted by law enforcement personnel, and when the records were introduced at trial, they were authenticated by prosecution witnesses, not by Andresen. Therefore, any compulsion of Andresen to speak, other than the inherent psychological pressure to respond at trial to unfavorable evidence, was not present.

  • Case Brief: 1976
  • Petitioner: Andresen
  • Respondent: Maryland
  • Decided by: Burger Court

Citation: 427 US 463 (1976)
Argued: Feb 25, 1976
Decided: Jun 29, 1976