Q:

What does "I plead the Fifth" mean?

A:

Quick Answer

According to the U.S. National Archives, to "plead the Fifth" means to decline to give self-incriminating evidence. "The Fifth" makes reference to the Fifth Amendment within the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution, which gives a person the right to refuse to answer questions that implicate him in a crime. This right applies both during interrogation and during appearances in a criminal trial.

Continue Reading
What does "I plead the Fifth" mean?
Credit: Alina Solovyova-Vincent E+ Getty Images

Full Answer

The relevant clause in the Bill of Rights declares that no person "shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." Legal experts note that this amendment arose out of a need to protect prisoners from torture as well as those whom law enforcement officials detain. The Fifth Amendment also ties into Miranda rights, which notify a detained person of his right to remain silent when being held by law enforcement officials. The Fifth Amendment and Miranda rights matter because anything that a detained person says is potential evidence to be used against him in a court of law. However, a person who considers pleading the Fifth in a court case must know that the law considers this right to silence waived if he decides to take the stand in his own defense. Witnesses who do plead the Fifth are not to be considered guilty in court unless other evidence presented successfully implicates them.

Learn more about Law

Related Questions

  • Q:

    What does "shall not be infringed" mean?

    A:

    The phrase "shall not be infringed" means something cannot be limited in an unreasonable manner. This phrase usually refers to rights and essentially means that, once a right is agreed on, it is an absolute right and cannot be limited later.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What does "unsolicited" mean?

    A:

    According to the Free Dictionary, "unsolicited" means that something is not searched for or sought after. Dictionary.com notes that "unsolicited" can mean something is supplied without asking for it.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What is a USDOT number?

    A:

    A United States Department of Transportation, or USDOT, number is primarily issued to any business organization that owns commercial vehicles as a means of keeping track of the company's safety rating. The U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA, issues the USDOT number.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What does "notwithstanding the foregoing" mean?

    A:

    "Notwithstanding the foregoing" means in spite of what was just said or written. The word "notwithstanding" means in spite of or despite. The word "foregoing" means what has come earlier.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore