Find answers to common questions for interacting with the courts, law enforcement and the criminal justice system.
Please download a free guide to interacting with law enforcement, Don’t Answer Questions, Especially If You’re Innocent.
What is Pleading the Fifth?
Pleading the fifth comes from the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which says a person cannot be “compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” This is why you do not have to answer questions by the police or testify against yourself in a criminal trial.
Pleading the fifth is another way of saying “I do not want to answer questions” or “I want to remain silent.” People can plead the fifth even when they are innocent. Some folks make the mistake of thinking only guilty people need to plead the fifth. However, as I explain in my free download, Don’t Talk to the Police, Especially if You’re Innocent, if you are innocent the best way to make sure you’re not convicted of a crime you did not commit is to remain silent. Or in other words, ask for a lawyer and plead the fifth.