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What does it mean to plead the 5th?

If you have ever watched a television court drama, you may have seen a character pleading the 5th. While this makes for good TV and a great plot device, it actually is a very real option that you may have if you find yourself in a Connecticut courtroom. 

Time explains that pleading the 5th refers to the 5th Amendment to the Constitution. While the 5th Amendment covers a lot of ground, the specific part that refers to this situation is the right you have to not be a witness against yourself in legal proceedings. Essentially, this just means that you do not have to testify against yourself and provide evidence as to your guilt. People may evoke the 5th to prevent having to provide evidence that could lead to criminal charges being pressed against them. 

It is common for attorneys to strike deals so a person cannot be later charged with a crime if his or her testimony would reveal he or she is guilty of a crime. This may happen if you were called as a witness in a trial but if you testify, you would incriminate yourself. If the prosecutor was more concerned about convicting the person on trial than going after you for your crime, then he or she may strike a deal that your testimony could never be used against you and that you would be protected against prosecution for any crimes you reveal during your testimony. This information is educational and is not legal advice. 

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