What Pleading the Fifth is All About

There are a lot of things in life that people say that can get them into trouble later on. This is why the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution dictates that no person can be made to be a witness against themselves. A person has the right to stay silent and not answer any question before having a lawyer present with them. This factual right is also known by many people as pleading the fifth. There are several ways that pleading the fifth can be employed. Here are some of those ways.

Different Ways That Pleading the Fifth Can Be Used

Pleading the fifth is the perfect way of keeping yourself from saying something that would otherwise incriminate yourself. Here are some areas of life that you may find yourself in someday and you will want to plead the fifth until a time can be determined that you can speak without incriminating yourself.

  • You will find that a defendant has a right to plead the fifth in federal and state criminal cases. You have the choice of taking the stand or sitting out. This means you have a choice. And once that choice is made there is no going back. You do not get to pick and choose what questions you can answer.
  • Defendants in a civil case may also choose to plead the fifth. There is some risk to pleading the fifth in this case. Assumptions can be made against you by a jury if you plead the fifth. This can lead to you being found guilty based on assumptions.
  • You may find yourself being called on by an attorney to become a witness to events. In this case, the fifth can be used to keep from incriminating oneself. The fifth will not protect you from having to testify. But it will keep you from incriminating yourself from other activities. It can also become a bit of a bargaining tool if the prosecutor wants to cut a deal for your testimony.

What Pleading the Fifth Will Not Protect You From?

There are a lot of things that the fifth will protect you from doing to yourself. But there are some things that you cannot use it for.

  • The Fifth Amendment cannot be used to keep material evidence from being used. For instance, a set of fingerprints or DNA evidence cannot be dismissed simply by pleading the fifth.
  • The fifth cannot be used to keep a court from decoding a computer or other such items.

The Fifth Amendment was widely put into place to keep people from saying things that would otherwise incriminate them on the spot. The United States of America has a judicial system that dictates a person is innocent until proven guilty. There is not a judge in the country that can dictate a person to be guilty until he is proven guilty of the crime. If you have any questions about the Fifth Amendment or need answers to when it can be used, it would be a good idea to contact your local lawyer, so they can advise you of your rights.