Understanding the Fifth Amendment

“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in court.” It is the classic line you see whenever a cop arrests someone on TV or in the movies. Yet, you may not realize that you have the right to remain silent for more than just your arrest.

Thanks to the Fifth Amendment, you do not have to step into the witness stand and answer questions in a court, if you feel those answers would incriminate you. The jury cannot use your refusal as proof you are guilty either.

 Sometimes silence is best. You’ve seen those smart prosecutors in the cop shows. They stand there firing questions at a sweating defendant, leaving them so confused that they don’t know what day of the week it is. By refusing to testify, you spare yourself that trauma and deny the prosecutors the opportunity to tie your tongue and twist your words. You deny them their fun, too.

Choosing to use the Fifth Amendment is not like a quiz show where you answer the questions you like and pass on the ones you don’t. You either answer all questions, or you take the Fifth and answer none. 

Witnesses, as opposed to someone on trial, may also plead the Fifth. However, they can choose to answer some questions if they wish.

If you have been accused of criminal charges in Texas, however obvious you believe your innocence should be, the consequences of answering questions could be severe. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you decide whether or not to plead the Fifth. Making the right choice is vital to your freedom and your future.

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