From the Criminal Lawyers in Kennewick: When You Should Exercise Your 5th Amendment Rights
As the Miranda rights spell out, “Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.”
That’s a major reason why everyone should know when to exercise the 5th Amendment, especially those who have been arrested on criminal charges.
The 5th Amendment protects you from self-incrimination, among other things. In this article, we’ll explain your rights in greater detail so that you know what to do and what not to do if you are ever arrested.
Have specific questions? Contact our criminal lawyers in Kennewick today.
From the Criminal Lawyers in Kennewick: When to Exercise Your 5th Amendment Rights
There are many situations when you should exercise your 5th Amendment rights, according to our criminal lawyers in Kennewick. First, consider the premise of the 5th Amendment. It prevents you from saying something in a court of law that could put you at risk for criminal penalties.
Without the 5th Amendment in place, you may say something that will land you behind bars. Whether or not you are guilty, your words can serve as a testimony to your actions and provide evidence that is not in your favor.
You can exercise your 5th Amendment rights if you are in a criminal trial, as well as if you’ve witnessed a crime and are on the stand to testify against another person.
You have the right to plead the 5th if you feel that your words could later be misconstrued as evidence that makes you look guilty in a court of law. (It is important to note that you can plead the 5th regarding both a crime in proceedings, as well as other crimes you might be facing charges for.)
You can also exercise your 5th Amendment rights if you’re facing civil charges. If you have reason to believe that your words may make you look guilty and lead to charges, you have the right to remain silent. You can also use your 5th Amendment rights in proceedings aside from trials, such as if you’re being questioned in a police station or are in the middle of a deposition.
Let’s talk a little more about what exactly your 5th Amendment rights are here in the U.S.
What are your 5th Amendment rights?
Here are some of the rights under the 5th Amendment:
- Trial by Jury: If you’re facing charges, you have a constitutional right to a trial by jury. That means you’ll have a fair trial and may be considered “guilty” or “not guilty” based on the evidence portrayed in court.
- Double Jeopardy: In the U.S., you can’t be tried two times for the exact same crime. The 5th Amendment makes this clear so that you aren’t harassed for something that you have already been charged for. Going through a trial twice for a crime can be taxing mentally and physically, as well as a strain on finances.
- Self-Incrimination: As we mentioned above, what you say before an officer of the law can serve as evidence in court. However, when you invoke your right to the 5th Amendment, you essentially say that you are utilizing your right to remain silent and will not be answering any further questions until you consult your attorney. The 5th Amendment keeps you from having to answer questions and potentially say something that could make you appear guilty or could give the police evidence in your case.
- Due Process: “No one shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law,” according to the 5th Amendment. That means that you, your rights, and your property must be respected, and you shall be treated fairly in the court of law.
When You Should Exercise Your Right to Remain Silent
One of the times to invoke your 5th Amendment rights is if you are being questioned by the police. The chances are that if you’ve been brought into the police station, the police may have reason to suspect that you have information related to a crime. You may even be asked questions with the intention for you to confess your guilt.
When talking to police, it is easy to provide too much information, and that same information you share to support your innocence could be the same information that is misconstrued and turned into evidence against you. That’s why remaining silent is usually the best course of action.
Another time to invoke your right to remain silent is right after getting arrested. Any information you provide thereafter should only occur once you’ve spoken with an experienced criminal lawyer. Criminal defense lawyers can guide you through every step after your arrest and ensure you do not say something that you will regret later.
What the 5th Amendment Does Not Cover
While you can refuse a breathalyzer test, it’s not specifically covered in the 5th Amendment, and you could therefore be subject to charges, because operating a vehicle is considered “implied consent.” The 5th Amendment also does not offer protection for tangible items, such as fingerprints or blood tests, meaning that they can be used against you regardless of whether you enact your right to remain silent, as these are also covered under implied consent.
Another situation that the 5th Amendment does not cover is immunity. If you have been granted immunity for a crime, meaning that any evidence you share will not be used against you in a court of law, you may no longer have the right to remain silent.
As you can tell, the 5th Amendment is complex. There are many exceptions to it. However, the Constitution makes it straightforward that everyone should be given the same rights and fairness, and you should remain silent to avoid incriminating yourself.
If you ever feel that you are oversharing, you probably are, and the time to remain silent is now. Instead of explaining your side of the situation, the best way to go is to retain one of our qualified criminal lawyers in Kennewick, who can provide the necessary guidance you need to avoid charges.
Want to schedule a consultation with a criminal defense attorney in Tri-Cities, WA? Clearwater Law Group proudly serves you from here in Kennewick. Contact us today.