Have you committed a crime and wonder what rights you have? One of these rights is the Fifth Amendment, and it protects you against self-incrimination. Even if you have never been in trouble with the law before, you have probably heard of something known as “pleading the Fifth,” which is the right not to answer police questions while you are in court or custody. The Constitution even states on behalf of the amendment, “No person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.”
The Right Not to Testify by a Defendant
In trial, the Fifth Amendment grants you, the defendant, the right not to testify. This means that you cannot be forced by anybody to take the witness stand if you believe that you will be incriminating yourself. However, if you choose to go forth with your testimony, you can choose what you want to answer and what you don’t. If you choose to plead the fifth, you may wonder how this will affect your case’s outcome. The jurors will not be permitted to take your lack of testimony into account when they are determining whether or not you are guilty, so there are safety measures put in place.
This right against self-incrimination is extremely vital when giving testimony could open up your case to criminal charges. This is why you have the same protections in civil trial; however, the jury is free to make inferences in these cases and you could be seen as guilty in the end.
Witnesses and Pleading the Fifth
Witnesses can also enjoy the rights of the Fifth Amendment. If they believe that they will be implicated, they can refuse to answer questions. However, depending on the severity of the case, witnesses may be forced by law to testify, especially when somebody is in danger.
It is important to understand what rights you have under the Fifth Amendment and the protections it may be able to offer you in your case. Call an experienced defense attorney today to find out how you can move forward with your case, keeping these protections in mind. At The Law Office of Peter Blair, we will help you every step of the way.