During a trial, a person may plead the 5th. What does this mean? The Bill of Rights allows a witness certain privileges. The 5th Amendment plays an important role when it comes to protecting witnesses from testifying against themselves. The 5th Amendment is also known as the right to ‘Remain Silent’ given that the answer will incriminate the witness for future court trials.
There are fair chances that the prosecutor will question and cross-question witnesses to extract details about the ongoing trial in every court trial. However, an experienced criminal attorney will make sure to brief the client, a witness, to plead the 5th wherever applicable during the trial. Most law firms hold a mock trial so that the witnesses can understand which ways questions can be twisted to extort information, which leads to the incrimination of the witness.
How to plead the 5th Amendment?
During any criminal questioning, whether by police or by prosecuting attorney, specific questions can lead the prosecution to conclude the witness into self-incrimination. Hence a witness needs to speculate the questioning and exercise the right at the exact questions.
At any given question that leads the witness into self-incrimination, they may just say, “I exercise my right to the 5th.”
A witness can exercise the 5th as many times as possible to structure their communication with the government official or the opposing attorney in the courtroom. In many cases, when a witness pleads the 5th, the questions are twisted and made even more by the opposing attorney or even a police official. It gets trickier with every following question. The need to extract as much information from the witness present on the witness stand is the duty of an attorney. Every witness has to be mindful of such situations and must refrain from being victimized.