Case Study: Braswell V. United States

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Braswell v. United States In the case of Braswell v. United States 1988; Braswell was the sole shareholder and officer of two companies which specialized in the buying and selling of timber, oil interests, land, and machinery. (Melvin, 2011, p.569) Braswell was being investigated by federal authorities thus they subpoenaed him for his business records. Braswell refused and pleaded to use his right of the Fifth Amendment claiming that it protects business owners against self-incrimination. This paper will discuss the following: If a corporation has been recognized as a legal “person” for First Amendment purposes, shouldn’t the Fifth Amendment protect it too, What if Braswell’s company was a sole proprietorship rather than a corporation, What…show more content…
As a sole proprietorship most businesses are set up by an individual. Sole proprietorship goes by the individuals own business rules and is also responsible for all business transactions and debt. A sole proprietorship owns the business and runs it until death. All of the assets are tied up into the business which is a risk. It is hard to supply benefits for employees and draw in investors to the business when it is ran as a sole proprietorship. Sole proprietorship companies are able to claim the Fifth…show more content…
United State – 487 U.S. 99 (1988)” (Braswell v. United States, 487 U.S. 99) the Fifth Amendment would not apply. Braswell incorporated both companies and the “courts have recognized that corporations exist as a separate legal person” (Melvin, 2011, pg. 554). The details of corporate records are not privilege under the Fifth Amendment and “a corporation does not have a Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination” (Braswell v. United States, 487 U.S. 99). Conclusion In this case the courts make it clear that there is absolutely no instance where documents related to a corporation or any person connected to the corporation would be able to rely upon the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination. It is also clear that no person could appeal to the Fifth Amendment to try to avoid providing corporate documents that are in his or her possession even if providing the documents could possibly incriminate his or her own

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