The police have the right to pull over drivers who are acting in a way that might suggest they committed crimes, will commit crimes or are committing crimes. The police then have a right to ask drivers questions and even perform tests that may help them gather evidence against the driver. Much like how the police have the right to perform traffic stops and ask questions, drivers also have rights of their own.
The Fifth Amendment gives people the right to avoid questions that would lead to self-incriminating statements. In other words, someone could refuse to make any comments that would serve to admit to a crime or create a link to a crime. Understanding this right has protected many people from criminal charges.
While pleading the Fifth can give people peace of mind, it’s not necessary for every situation. Here’s what you should know:
When should you plead the Fifth?
The police can ask people different questions. Someone may be questioned about whether they’ve been drinking or using drugs. Pleading the Fifth may help protect someone from having their statements used against them.
On the other hand, an officer who is asking around during a missing person report may not require someone to invoke the Fifth Amendment. In this situation, the officer is likely only looking for witnesses. Providing a witness testimony may help in this regard.
What should you do if you plead the Fifth?
It’s important to announce when the Fifth Amendment is being used. Staying silent doesn’t necessarily mean that someone is using their right to plead the Fifth.
When someone exercises their right to remain silent, it may still be necessary to stay compliant. Certain actions can lead to criminal charges even when someone pleads the Fifth. It can help people to learn about their legal rights to understand how their rights may be violated.