Fifth amendment or interrogation ?

Asked about 1 year ago - Borrego Springs, CA

A person files a civil suit, as pro-per, The defendant's lawyer wanted to interrogate him, should he take the fifth and declare all related subject will be only for the trial, at the trial? (if he reveal information via interrogative this would be bad for sure, as a pro-per right?)

Attorney answers (4)

  1. Joseph Briscoe Dane

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

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    Answered . The Fifth Amendment applies when you're making a statement that could incriminate you in a criminal offense. Does it apply to a civil case? It can - if there is potential criminal liability and there are admissions to that crime.

    Yes, a person has the right to proceed pro per, but if the issues are beyond your knowledge, skill and are potentially harmful to your position (either criminally or civilly), it's time for a lawyer.

    The above answer is for general information only and is based on the information you posted. Every case is fact... more
  2. Timothy V. Kassouni

    Pro

    Contributor Level 10

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    Answered . The Fifth Amendment protects your right to refuse to answer any question, including an interrogatory, which may implicate your guilt in a criminal matter. The right to avoid self-incrimination is a fundamental right that must be respected regardless of whether or not the question arises in a civil trial. However, as some of the attorneys here have mentioned, the practical result of pleading the fifth is different in a civil trial than it would be in a criminal proceeding. In some cases, a civil jury can take the fact that you plead the fifth into account in determining liability. Moreover, frivolous uses of the Fifth Amendment in response to interrogatories can result in claims that you are abusing the discovery process.

  3. James M Henderson Sr.

    Contributor Level 12

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    Answered . The assertion of the right to be free from compelled self-incrimination may be made in the context of civil litigation.

    But the assertion can be costly.

    Courts have held that refusing to answer in the civil context can be disciplined under rules of civil procedure as a failure to cooperate in discovery. Disciplines under the rules can include an award of costs/fees, and can include instructions to a jury that they may presume that the answer to the question refused would be unfavorable to the party asserting the right.

    This answer is not a substitute for consulting with and retaining the services of an attorney for your legal needs.... more
  4. Paul Stanko

    Pro

    Contributor Level 12

    Answered . The Fifth Amendment does not apply to civil actions, especially if the person "taking the Fifth" is the Plaintiff. By filing a lawsuit, the Plaintiff is exposing himself to the discovery process, including deposition.

    ALSO, the Fifth Amendment is meant to protect citizens from self-incrimination as against "state action". If there is no "state action" there is nothing to be protected from.

    Requesting, receiving, or accessing general information on Avvo or other web sites does not create an attorney-... more

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