can i plead the fifth on cases i'm clearly not guilty on?

I’m sure this has been asked before but i can’t find it. Can I plead the fifth amendment even on cases where it’s obvious that I wouldn’t be incriminating myself? Like my friend is accused of something and I don’t want to testify against him because he’s my friend, so I claim the 5th amendment even though no one is accusing me of doing anything at all, and it’s obvious that the questions they’re asking couldn’t possibly be used to incriminate me for anything?

I don’t think so. I think you can only use the 5th if you’re on trial and being accused of something – NOT if you have to testify.

Perhaps someone more informed can answer, but if that were the case, I don’t think we’d ever have any trials, as no one would ever testify.

but how would the judge know? If they ask “Did you see your friend commit this crime?” and in fact you actually committed it yourself, then it would presumably be OK to invoke the fifth. Couldn’t that logic apply to virtually any question the prosecutor could conceivably ask you?

You can certainly plead the fifth if you’re testifying, even if you’re not on trial. However, you can’t plead the fifth just because you don’t want to testify against your friend.

If need be, the prosecutor would grant you use or transactional immunity for your testimony, and then you wouldn’t need to fear self incrimination.

You can use the fifth amendment if you are testifying as a witness if what you say could incriminate you.

Mark Fuhrman invoked the 5th when he was asked if he had made racist comments and whether he planted evidence in the OJ Simpson case. He wasn’t on trial for those things; he was just testifying in the OJ trial. But he could have been indicted for any crimes he admitted to and he could have been indicted for perjury if he lied about it. So the 5th was the best choice.

If you are asked if you witnessed a crime taking place, you have to answer. If you are asked whether or not you took part in the crime, you are allowed to invoke the 5th if you had in fact taken part and could be prosecuted.

I think the courts do limit invoking 5th amendment right if you have been granted immunity and there is no chance you could be prosecuted.

SO can you refuse to tell the cops what you know if you are not guilty? (not on the stand)

If you give the police misleading information, they can charge you with obstruction of justice. (In a recent Cheney-esque case, some prosecutors tried to charge a perp with obstruction for lying to his lawyer. They claimed he lied to his lawyer, knowing full well the lawyer would pass the lie to them. Never did hear the resolution of that case.)

In court, you must testify or face contempt charges. If granted immunity, I assume you must testify without the 5th. I guess also, if you blurt out every crime you committed while under immunity, are you now home-free or are they giving you immunity on a question-by-question basis?

Can you refuse immunity and still not testify anyway? Like suppose they give you immunity for drug smuggling or whatever, but unknown to them, you’ve also killed over a thousand people, and that would come out during your testimony. Can you refuse to accept immunity then?

I am not a lawyer, but I thought the judge could make you answer the questions, whether or not he also gave you immunity. I guess he can’t “force” you to answer, because that would make court TV incredible, but I think he can still throw you in jail if you dont.

It would depend upon how the grant of immunity was made. I doubt that there has been a grant of immunity that has covered every crime someone has ever committed to date.

So if you are asked whether you helped Neptunian Slug rob a bank, and you have immunity related to the bank robbery, you have to testify. But say the prosecutor asks “Did Neptunian Slug go on that bank robbery with you to repay you for murdering his abusive father?” you should probably take the fifth.

I suppose a judge could do that, yes.

But he’d be acting improperly if he did.

The Fifth Amendment protects you from being compelled to give testimony against yourself in a criminal case. If you have immunity, then your testimony cannot be used against you and the Fifth Amendment is satisifed. If you are forced to testify without immunity, and your testimony (or the fruits thereof) are subsequently used against you, you have excellent grounds for overturning that verdict.

You can also claim the 5th Amendment when testifying in a civil case, if the answer to the question asked would incriminate you.

Is it true that Mark Furman invoked the Fifth when asked if he had planted evidence? I don’t remember it that way, but I could be mistaken. Cite please.

That doesn’t make much sense. A client should have every reason to believe that his lawyer will tell no one what he confides in her.

This is just from the Wikipedia page, but I could find you an actual newspaper article if you’d like:

Fuhrman’s Book

Deseret News

Let’s go one step further and assuming the person is up there saying WTF to all of the legalese that’s being thrown about. The witness is asked a question, pleads the Fifth, is given immunity, and then is directed by the Judge to answer the question.

Because of the way the clever attorney phrased the question or the way in which the witness phrases the answer, they incriminate themselves (or more likely give an indication of having committed a crime). I assume the immunity would not cover this crime yet in a way they were force to incriminate themselves (picture Perry Mason as a prosecuter sending out Paul Drake because of the new testimony).

My question is can such a thing happen where the witness is forced by a Judge to testify thereby forcing them to admit or hint at an un-immunitized crime?

Can it happen? Probably, given near-perfect circumstances and a judge amenable to this line of reasoning. It seems like a rare occurrence to this non-lawyer, but it’s at least conceivable.

Will that evidence successfully be used in a later prosecution? Doubtful. It’d be rather likely to be tossed out on procedural grounds by either the trial judge or an appeals judge, thanks to a reasonably competent defense lawyer.

Here is an outstanding youtube video (shown to me by my lawyer, btw) that makes a more than compelling case that you should never talk to the police for any reason at any time, ever, by way of your 5th amendment rights if necessary. It’s worth watching more than once to gain the full import of not just your rights, but how they might be [innocently, or not] trampled upon by the police et al.

[Charging someone for lying to his lawyer, who passed information on to Police]

You’re right; lawyer-client privilege is pretty sancrosect. So while I don’t know anything about the case, what seems most plausible to me is that the person instructed the lawyer to pass the information on to the police. Lawyers speak for their clients all the time, especially to Police.
The legal theory for charging the person then would be that the person lied to Police. The fact that the communication took place through the lawyer is no different than if the communication took place through a written note or message on an answering machine.
Now it’s possible that this case is a little more bizarre and/or outrageous, but in my theoretical situation, if the deception was serious enough to merit obstruction charges, it seems reasonable to charge the person. Saying things through a lawyer doesn’t get you off the hook.

It’s 11 p.m. Your ten-year-old son’s school reports that he started walking home when classes ended, but he’s never arrived at the house. None of his friends know where he is. Driving his route, you don’t see him. You wouldn’t call the police?