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Know when to plead the Fifth

Facing any type of criminal charges means that you have to be careful about what you say and do. One of the reasons for this is that you have the right to avoid self-incrimination. This doesn't mean that the prosecutors have to ignore statements you make. In fact, if you do make incriminating statements, they can use them against you.

Self-incrimination means that you make a statement that proves your guilt. The Fifth Amendment provides you protections against this. It is interesting to note that there are limitations to this protection.

First, if you choose to plead the Fifth Amendment, you can't choose to answer some questions and not other questions. This means that you need to decide from the get-go if you are going to plead the Fifth.

Second, you don't have to be the defendant in the case to plead the Fifth. Anyone who is called to testify can plead the Fifth as long as there is something that might incriminate them.

Third, if a person opts to plead the Fifth, no interpretation of guilt can be made. That is, if a person pleads the Fifth at a trial, the jury couldn't use that fact as a point for a conviction.

It is imperative that you understand your rights if you end up facing any criminal charges. Knowing your rights can help you ensure that you aren't doing anything that could work against your defense. Ultimately, your defense might start before you are even arrested, so even if you aren't officially facing charges but think you might eventually, learn about your rights now.

Source: FindLaw, "Fifth Amendment Right Against Self-Incrimination," accessed May 04, 2017

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