AP US Government : Rights of the Accused

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP US Government

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Rights Of The Accused

The Supreme Court Case Gregg v. Georgia (1976) established what government action as constitutional under certain strict requirements?

Possible Answers:

Searches of public school students

Income tax

Capital punishment

Affirmative action

Imminent domain land seizures

Correct answer:

Capital punishment

Explanation:

The Supreme Court had placed a moratorium on the death penalty in the 1972 case Furman v. Georgia. However, a majority of the justices had ruled in Furman that capital punishment was only unconstitutional as then currently practiced. With the Gregg decision, many new capital punishment laws, with stricter standards for which defendants were eligible and how due process would unfold, were ruled as legitmately constitutional, ending the four year moratorium on the death penalty.

Example Question #2 : Rights Of The Accused

“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you . . .” This [now somewhat famous] warning comes from the result in Miranda v. Arizona, but which constitutional amendment forms the basis for this “Miranda” warning? 

Possible Answers:

Eighth Amendment 

Fifth Amendment 

Fourteenth Amendment 

Twentieth Amendment 

Twelfth Amendment 

Correct answer:

Fifth Amendment 

Explanation:

The Fifth Amendment is the correct answer. Recall, the Fifth Amendment has multiple “clauses” or parts, including all of the following clauses: the ‘takings,’ grand jury, double jeopardy, due process, and—the reason the answer is correct—the self-incrimination clause. While this answer may sound like it stems from the Eighth Amendment (as it deals with things like excessive punishments), it does not.

The Eighth Amendment (above) deals with excessive/cruel punishment;

The Twentieth Amendment reduced the amount of “lame duck” time faced by an outgoing Congress.

The Twelfth Amendment restructured the way in which the President and Vice President were elected from the winner (president) and runner up (vice-president) to two different ballots (that is, the President and Vice President are elected separately by the Electoral College). Can you see why the first way would be uncomfortable for the President/VP? (Hint: it has to do with political parties). 

The Fourteenth Amendment, similar to the Fifth, has many clauses (due process, equal protection, etc) none of which are relevant here. 

Example Question #8 : Civil Rights

Which Amendment prohibits excessive bail?

Possible Answers:

The 8th Amendment

The 9th Amendment

The 7th Amendment

The 17th Amendment

Correct answer:

The 8th Amendment

Explanation:

This Amendment is designed to protect those that have been arrested and also those that have been found guilty of crimes. This Amendment is meant to ensure that a person is not over punished for a crime and attempts to stop someone from being punished out of vengeance. The Amendment also wants to limit the bail that can be placed on someone while that person is waiting for trail, as it used to be that only the rich could afford post bail, which was very unfair to those that were not wealthy.

Example Question #9 : Civil Rights

The Right to an Attorney is found under which Amendment?

Possible Answers:

The 10th Amendment

The 20th Amendment

The 6th Amendment

The 13th Amendment

Correct answer:

The 6th Amendment

Explanation:

This Amendment provides various protections for those going through a trial, including the right “to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.” This was included to ensure that people have the help of someone who understands the law and could defend the accused and to protect against the government putting someone on trial and the accused having no idea what happens during a trial or how to defend him/herself.

Example Question #3 : Rights Of The Accused

Select the one right granted to defendants that is NOT included in the Constitution.

Possible Answers:

The right not to be made a victim of "cruel and unusual punishment" 

The right to confront any witnesses 

The right to refuse to incriminate oneself 

The Miranda Rights 

Correct answer:

The Miranda Rights 

Explanation:

Several Constitutional Amendments deal with the protections afforded to those citizens who find themselves accused of a crime, whether on the national, state, or local levels. The Fourth Amendment protects individuals from “unreasonable searches and seizures;” police officials cannot search any person or their property without a legally justified court warrant. The Fifth Amendment ensures that the accused individual may legally refuse to offer up any information that may implicate their involvement in or knowledge of a criminal act. This same Amendment also outlaws the practice of double jeopardy, meaning that an individual may not be put on trial twice (or any more times) for the same crime. The Sixth Amendment contains several rights: the accused has the right to receive the assistance of a lawyer, to confront any witnesses brought against them, and to have a “speedy trial” with fair jurors. The Seventh Amendment further reinforces the right to a trial by jury and the Eighth Amendment protects both accused and convicted defendants from any “cruel and unusual punishment” at the hands of the legal system. Surprisingly, the Miranda Rights (the famous list of rights which the police must legally read to anyone who is arrested) are not actually explicitly mentioned in the Constitution. Rather, the Supreme Court actually drew up the Miranda Rights as part of a 1966 case, using the Fifth Amendment’s ban against forced self-incrimination as implied justification. The legal system is therefore bound to abide by these Miranda Rights just as if they were, in fact, actually enumerated in the Fifth Amendment.

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