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Pleading the 5th During a Civil Deposition...Can it be Used Against you?

Los Angeles, CA |

If you plead the 5th to a crime during a civil deposition, can it be used against you? I heard that during a criminal trial it can't but during a civil trial it can. If this is true, can you please elaborate WHY it can be used against you?

Attorney Answers 3


  1. There is no 5th amendment privilege in civil cases.
    Why, because there is no statutory or constitutional protection in civil cases.

    The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advice" but analysis, and different lawyers may analyse this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. I am only licensed in California. See also avvo.com terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.


  2. Mr. Doland is correct. The Fifth Amendment is a protection from criminal responsibility. That's why it says you cannot in"crim"inate yourself. You can't be held criminally liable in a civil action. Discuss this with your lawyer. If you don't have one and are concerned about possible criminal activity, get one.

    The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. I am only licensed in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and I am not providing you with specific legal advice. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Being general in nature, the information provided may not apply to any specific factual and/or legal set of circumstances and/or the jurisdiction where you reside. No attorney-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. The information provided is of a general nature is not intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney, especially an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction. Your question, although you may believe is simple, it is not simple. You require legal advice, please consult with a competent attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.


  3. I would disagree with my colleague. DeCamp v Kingsington (1978) 83 Cal. App. 3d 268 dealt with a situation where a corporation and an individual both refused to file verified answers as it would be an admission of fraud. The Court held that the Corporation had no right against self incrimination but the individual defendant did.

    Not to incriminate yourself is a privilege you must assert. If you answer part of a question that is covered by the privilege, you waive that privilege and once waived, its gone forever. Now, to answer your question, in a civil case you may not be punished for the assertion of a privilege but, there are evidence codes that state if a party has the power to produce evidence, or fails to explain evidence and does not do so, then the court may find the party less credible in not producing the evidence or taking the other sides facts as presented as you failed to explain them away (based upon the assertion of privilege)

    A proper response would require a thorough investigation into the history and background of this relationship. The information provided above is just that, information, to be used as you see fit.

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