One of the things that many people hear during interviews, media reports, TV shows and police investigations is someone saying they “plead the Fifth.” Someone who pleads the Fifth is refusing to make any comments that could lead to self-incrimination. Pleading the Fifth is not a legal term, but a colloquial one that in effect states they are refusing to answer questions that could be used against them in the court of law.
There’s always the possibility that the police could come up to anyone at any time and ask them questions related to an investigation. This could happen on the street, in stores or even on people’s front lawns. People who believe they could not be a target in an investigation may be inclined to answer any of these questions since it’s the police who are asking them. It’s often not people’s first thought to plead the Fifth at this time.
However, answering law enforcement questions can make life complicated for someone who believes they have not committed any crimes. Here’s what you should know:
Why would someone who is innocent plead the Fifth?
Someone who believes they are innocent may try to cooperate with law enforcement instead of exercising their rights. They may do this since they may believe honesty is their best defense and pleading the Fifth would appear as if they are admitting to guilt.
However, it can still greatly benefit people who believe they are innocent to plead the Fifth early on in an investigation. There have been many times when someone was not a target in a criminal investigation that unfortunately suffered from criminal charges because they did not enforce their rights. Criminal law is exceedingly complex, so people sometimes admit to things that they don’t realize could result in charges.
It’s important to know when it’s necessary to plead the Fifth. Someone facing criminal charges because they did not exercise their right soon enough needs to learn about their options for a legal defense.