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Plead the Fifth

By Annamawrick Subscribe to RSS | January 27th 2012 | Views:
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If you watch a lot of legal TV programs or movies, then you will have heard a lot of characters talk about people in court “pleading the Fifth” or “taking the Fifth”. This obviously applies to the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution, but what does it actually mean in practical terms?

Although the full text of the Fifth Amendment, which was introduced in 1955, refers to various parts of the legal system, the part that characters in legal shows are referring to is the part that talks about “self-incrimination”. This means that if you are standing trial anywhere in the US you are not obligated to give evidence if that evidence will only support the case against you. For example, if you were charged with a bank robbery and you were asked where you were at the time the bank robbery was committed, you could plead the Fifth Amendment rather than answering the question honestly; that you were stood in the bank with a gun in your hand.

Of course, the problem with characters, and real life defendants, who take the Fifth is that they end up looking guilty, even if they end up having a good reason for refusing to answer questions. Why would someone refuse to incriminate themselves in court unless they were actually guilty in the first place? In movies, there is usually some noble reason why the character takes the Fifth, but in real court cases it is more likely to be because the person on trial has committed the offence they are charged with!

Although the rest of the Fifth Amendment doesn't feature in popular culture quite so often, it is still a very important tool in ensuring that the legal system in this country remains fair and unbiased. It is the Fifth Amendment which contains the clause referring to “double jeopardy”; not being tried for the same crime a second time if you were acquitted first time around. This part of the Constitution also deals with search warrants and how interrogations should be carried out once a suspect has been taken into custody; this means that confessions extracted through torture or violence are inadmissible in court, a vital protection for all US citizens.

Annamawrick - About Author:
Anna Mawrick is professional writer who has written many articles on different topics like Health and Legal etc. This time Anna Mawrick is showing interest of writing on Criminal Defense Attorney Houston and SAAS Contract.


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