Baltimore v. Bouknight

In Baltimore v. Bouknight, 493 U.S. 549 (1990), the Court was dealing with a case where a child had been adjudicated in need of assistance and his care was subject to the state's custodial conditions. The child apparently continued to live with his mother, and at one point state officers requested that the child be produced. The mother refused to do so and was imprisoned until she purged herself of the contempt by producing the child or by identifying his whereabouts. The Supreme Court held that the mother could not invoke the privilege against self-incrimination to resist the order to produce the child. In so ruling, the Supreme Court made a few statements that are applicable to this case as well. When the government demands that an item be produced, 'the only thing compelled is the act of producing the [item]. The Fifth Amendment's protection may nonetheless be implicated because the act of complying with the government's demand testifies to the existence, possession, or authenticity of the things produced. But a person may not claim the Amendments' protections based upon the incrimination that may result from the contents or nature of the thing demanded. (Bouknight, at 554, 555.) The Court has on several occasions recognized that the Fifth Amendment privilege may not be invoked to resist compliance with a regulatory regime constructed to effect the State's public purposes unrelated to the enforcement of its criminal laws. (Bouknight, at 556.) Where, by virtue of their character and the rules of law applicable to them, the books and papers are held subject to examination by the demanding authority, the custodian has no privilege to refuse production although their contents tend to criminate him. (Bouknight, at 558.)