One of our fundamental rights is protected by the Fifth Amendment, and a King County defense lawyer wants you to understand more about “pleading the fifth.” The Constitution ensures that no one is compelled to be a witness against himself or herself. This essential right applies in any criminal case, hearing or proceeding.
Safeguarding against self-incrimination goes a long way. It protects you from more than just giving testimony that would support conviction. It also includes protection against statements that would help prosecutors put together the connections in a chain of evidence. The defendant is shielded from having to give an answer to a question implying guilt. The law also covers the non-answers: Sometimes an explanation of why a question cannot be answered is in itself incriminating. Let’s take a closer look.
A defendant has the right not to answer questions from the prosecution if it would be incriminating, or if it would provide a connection in the story or chain of evidence that proves guilt. This fundamental right, or privilege, applies even when someone is innocent. The judge and jury are not permitted to assume that using the privilege is a sign of guilt. Or, as a King County defense lawyer would put it, no adverse inferences may be drawn from the fact that the privilege is invoked by the defendant. A defense attorney will make sure that the jury is instructed about the privilege, and that the prosecutor does not comment or imply that its use suggests guilt.
Prior Proceedings Protected
The jury should not even find out that the defendant exercised his or her privilege in any of the proceedings, including the grand jury session that decided the charges. An accused person should not be asked about invoking the Fifth Amendment protections and right not to testify during the prior grand jury phase.
Constitutional rights and privileges are broad but require an expert defense attorney to ensure they are fully applied in each case. Find out more by calling King County defense lawyer