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‘All jokes aside, when and why does a person “Take the fifth”?’

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The Martindale dot com Legal Library is a source of many types of legal documents, including articles like this one:

“Taking the Fifth – A quick reference,” by Charles M. Farano, attorney.

Excerpt: “All jokes aside, when and why does a person ‘Take the fifth’?

We make jokes about it at parties and with our friends when we are confronted with uncomfortable situations, comments or questions, but it can be a serious consideration when you find yourself on the edge of a criminal investigation. Under what circumstances should a person actually consult a lawyer regarding something we joke about despite its importance?

Basic Right Stated

The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution says that no person can be compelled in a criminal proceeding to testify against him or herself. This right can be asserted in any proceeding, civil or criminal, administrative or judicial, investigatory or adjudicatory, and it protects against any disclosures that a person reasonably believes could be used in a criminal prosecution or that could lead to evidence that might be used in or might lead to the filing of an indictment . The United States Supreme Court has been zealous to safeguard the values of that underlying the privilege. It can be asserted in any proceeding in which the witness reasonably believes that information or testimony sought, could be used in a subsequent state or federal criminal proceeding….” [Link to full Martindale dot com article.]