As someone fighting to defend him or herself, it’s important that you have the knowledge of what you should and should not do in court. Many times, it’s better that you don’t speak at all, instead invoking your Fifth Amendment rights. These rights protect you in more ways than one.
The Fifth Amendment can be used to defend your case in a court of law. This amendment specifically states that no one can be forced to answer for a crime unless presented or indicted by a grand jury. Additionally, no one should legally be allowed to testify against him or herself. The Fifth Amendment less famously protects you from your life, liberty or property being taken without the due process of the law.
If you’re charged with a crime that resulted in a grand jury being used, you also have the right to challenge the participation of certain members of the jury for bias or partiality. For instance, if one of the jurors is known to be racist, it would be unfair for the juror to sit on a grand jury of a case against someone of ethnic origins.
Another clause in the Fifth Amendment is called double jeopardy. Double jeopardy protects a person from harassment by presenting successive prosecutions for the same alleged crime. If you’re acquitted, for example, you will not be able to be tried for the same crime again. It also guarantees that a person won’t be punished multiple times for the same crime.
If you have questions about your rights before trial, your attorney should speak to you and discuss the best path forward. You’ll want to devise a defensive plan that works for your situation, focusing on the ways to keep yourself in a positive light.
Source: LII, “Fifth Amendment,” accessed Sep. 09, 2016