What Does It Mean to Plead the Fifth?

prisoner in an interrogation room being questioned by two detectives

Have you heard the phrase I plead the Fifth? Let’s discuss what this means and how it connects to criminal cases.

The Fifth Amendment

The Fifth Amendment gives citizens the right to remain silent and avoid self-incrimination when speaking with law enforcement. When someone invokes or pleads the Fifth, they are stating that they will not engage in conversation or give information to law enforcement. Oftentimes, individuals use their right to remain silent until they have had the chance to speak with a defense attorney. This is the best way to protect oneself if accused of committing a crime.

When You Have the Right to Plead the Fifth

According to the Fifth Amendment, you have the right to avoid self-incrimination when in police custody. The Fifth Amendment also extends to criminal trials. Defendants can choose not to testify during their trial, and the jury cannot consider that refusal when determining guilt.

However, defendants can not plead the Fifth when it comes to providing physical evidence. This means they cannot avoid self-incrimination by refusing to give DNA samples, online records, or other types of evidence.

The Fifth Amendment is only applicable to verbal statements.

Is Pleading the Fifth a Sign of Guilt?

No! Everyone accused of committing a crime should use their Fifth Amendment rights - whether they are innocent or not. While law enforcement may be more suspicious of someone who uses their right to remain silent, it cannot be used against a defendant in court.

Individuals who are being questioned in connection to a criminal offense should always use their right to remain silent. It is a crucial part of protecting oneself.

Criminal Defense Lawyers in Rancho Cucamonga

Everyone should know and use their Constitutional rights when accused of a crime. Another important step to take is contacting a criminal defense attorney. You want a knowledgeable lawyer by your side as you navigate your case. At Newman & Allen, we have experience handling a wide variety of criminal cases and reaching successful outcomes. Call us today at (909) 328-6101 to discuss your charges with our California defense attorneys.