Take the Fifth and plead the Fifth

The phrases take the Fifth and plead the Fifth are terms coined in the United States. We will examine the meaning of the phrases take the Fifth and plead the Fifth, where they came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

To take the Fifth and to plead the Fifth are phrases that witnesses use in a court of law in order to invoke their right to not incriminate themselves. The Fifth referred to in these phrases is the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The Fifth Amendment is a part of the Bill of Rights, and guarantees that a citizen need not give testimony against himself. The judge and jury are not supposed to make any assumption about the defendant’s guilt or innocence based on his invocation of the Fifth Amendment. The Fifth Amendment also guarantees that a defendant may not experience Double Jeopardy, among other due process stipulations. In everyday English, I take the Fifth and I plead the Fifth are humorous expressions used when someone does not want to answer a question. Note that the word Fifth is capitalized in these expressions, as it is an abbreviation of the term Fifth Amendment.

Examples

Trump was talking about what he said were five Hillary Clinton associates (the real number was three) who had invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination to avoid testifying about her private email server. (Business INsider)

“I think it would be extremely prejudicial to Mr. DeAndre Davis if his brother … a named co-defendant or co-conspirator in the case, to come and take the stand in front of the jury and take the Fifth,” Kevin Neicewonger, DeAndre Davis’ court-appointed attorney said. (The Wheeling News-Register)

Will the president plead the Fifth, as suggested by his new attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani, to avoid answering questions posed by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III if an interview ever takes place? (The Washington Post)

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