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Taking the Fifth

“Taking the Fifth” refers to a person’s Fifth Amendment right to avoid testifying against himself or herself. When someone “Takes the Fifth” he or she is asserting one’s right to remain silent. The Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, commonly referred to as the right to remain silent, is a criminal defendant’s or a witness’s constitutional guarantee that “no person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.”

The right against self-incrimination not only applies in criminal cases but to any testimony that might lead to criminal prosecution or might be used in a criminal prosecution. The self-incrimination protection has to be asserted to be realized. Although the right against self-incrimination is usually invoked in criminal cases, a person can also invoke that right in civil, legislative, administrative, judicial, investigatory, or grand jury proceedings.

If you have made statements to law enforcement and believe your right against self-incrimination has been violated, consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to determine whether your Constitutional rights have been violated.