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What does it mean to plead the 5th?

If you are facing criminal charges, you may wonder if you can plead the fifth. You have probably heard about pleading the fifth a lot. It is commonly used in the movies and in television shows. It refers to the fifth amendment of the constitution. The very basic definition of pleading the fifth, according to Time, is when you use your fifth amendment right to not incriminate yourself in a crime.

Basically, the fifth amendment says you have the right to not testify against yourself. You do not have to provide information to officers, the court or anyone else that will admit to your guilt. The fifth amendment includes other rights, but when someone says they are pleading the fifth, this is the specific verbiage they are talking about. 

This right is most often used in a court setting. If you are called to testify against someone else but the information you would reveal could indicate your involvement in a crime, then you could plead the fifth. You simply would say you evoke your fifth amendment rights when asked a question you do not want to answer because it could be seen as your admission to involvement in a crime. 

A current example of the fifth amendment in use was in the investigation of Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election. Michael Flynn, former National Security Advisor, evoked his right when he refused to turn over documents requested by investigators. This information is for educational purposes only and is not to be taken as legal advice.  

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