If you have been charged with a crime or have otherwise found yourself in some type of legal predicament, you may feel very overwhelmed at the thought of having to face certain criminal charges. It can be overwhelming at best to face the idea of having to defend yourself in a court of law, and you may not have any idea as to where to start when it comes to creating a solid defense. No matter the crime, it’s always beneficial to discuss your situation with a seasoned criminal defense lawyer.
Now, if you watch television shows, you’ve surely heard from time to time a character saying that he’ll “plead the fifth”. But, do you even know what that means? And if you do, you’re probably wondering what that has to do with you. And why is it even important? If you’ve been charged with a crime, you’ll want to know more about the Fifth Amendment and why it applies to you. Better yet, it’s helpful to understand that the Fifth Amendment can actually help you.
The Fifth Amendment
When you plead the fifth, it means that you are declining to provide evidence that can be otherwise self-incriminating. The “fifth” is referring to the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. This amendment provides the right for an individual to refuse to answer questions that could ultimately connect you to a crime.
From there, the Fifth Amendment ties into a couple of other legal issues, specifically the Miranda rights and the Bill of Rights. Miranda Rights notifies you of your right to remain silent while you’re in police custody. The Bill of Rights warns that no individual shall be a witness against himself, nor shall they be deprived of property, life and liberty without “due process of the law.”
Waiving Your Right
You do have the right to waive the Fifth Amendment and take the stand in your own defense. This is an issue that you should ultimately discuss with your legal defense team.
What If You’re Guilty?
If you are guilty of the crime and subsequently want to admit guilt, you could discuss the possibility of a plea bargain. A plea bargain can help you answer to lesser consequences while still “paying” for your wrongdoing.
If you don’t want to take a gamble on the court process, a plea bargain could be the way to go.
A plea bargain not only can help you as the defendant, but it can also help the prosecution as well. This is because when a defendant takes a plea bargain, the prosecution still gets a guilty plea. A plea bargain can save both time and money on both the end of the prosecution and defense. Lastly, the prosecution secures a guilty verdict and the defendant faces less risk than if he took his case before a judge or jury.
What the Defendant Gains
A plea bargain can also help the defendant because the charges can be dropped or lessened altogether. For example, you can be charged with three misdemeanors, but as part of the plea bargain, the defendant can plead guilty to one or two of those charges, while having the third charge dropped altogether.
It’s best if you discuss your particular situation with an attorney. Before you’ve even retained your criminal court lawyer, make sure that you do not speak to any law enforcement officer. Plead the Fifth and call your laywer. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will sit down with you, take a look at the facts surrounding your case, and work for the best possible outcome.