The defendant was being investigated for fraud. Officers obtained a search warrant to search his office for business records containing statements made by the defendant. Various business records, some of which contained statements made by the defendant, were found and used in a criminal trial against him.
Whether the defendant’s business records were obtained in violation of his Fifth Amendment right to be free from self-incrimination?
No. The government neither compelled the defendant to make the statements nor compelled him to bring the statements to the courthouse for use against him.
The Fifth Amendment serves as a prohibition against compelling individuals to bear witness against himself or herself. The Court noted that the defendant was not compelled to do or say anything. The government did not compel the defendant to create the records, bring the records to the criminal courtroom, or identify the records as his property. The Court quoted Mr. Justice Holmes in stating, “A party is privileged from producing the evidence but not from its production,” cited in Johnson v. United States, 228 U.S. 457 (1913).
427 U.S. 463, 96 S. Ct. 2737 (1976)