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United States v. Dionisio


A federal grand jury subpoenaed various individuals, including the defendant, to obtain voice exemplars to compare them to previously recorded conversations. The defendant refused to comply, claiming that providing the voice exemplars would violate his Fifth Amendment right to be free from compelled self-incrimination.


Whether compelling a defendant to provide voice exemplars violated the defendant’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination?


No. The sound of a suspect’s voice is not testimonial in nature and is not protected by the defendant’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.


The privilege against self-incrimination “offers no protection against compulsion to submit to fingerprinting, photographing, or measurements, to write or speak for identification, to appear in court, to stand, to assume a stance, to walk, or to make a particular gesture.” The privilege prohibits compelling communications or testimony. In this case the voice recordings were to be used solely to measure the physical properties of the witnesses’ voice, not for the communicative content of what was said.


410 U.S. 1, 93 S. Ct. 764 (1973)

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