Legal Maxim

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Literal Meaning

No man is obliged to accuse himself except before God.




This legal maxim denotes that any accused person is entitled to make a plea of not guilty, and also that a witness is not obliged to give a response or submit a document that will incriminate himself. In simple terms, no one is duty-bound to accuse himself unless before God. A prisoner is fully entitled to plead not guilty whatever the facts may be. Similarly, a witness may refuse to answer questions on the ground that his answer might incriminate him. A confession is not admissible unless it is made freely and voluntarily. It must not be induced through promise or threat.


Confessions stand refused if the prosecutor uses – I should be obliged to you if you would tell us what you know about it; if you will not, of course, we can do nothing. Or Anything you can say in your defense, we shall be ready to hear. An oath is not lawful whereby any person may be compelled to confess or accuse himself.

An answer of one defendant is not evidenced against a co-defendant.

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