"Pleading the Fifth" means you are exercising your rights under a provision of the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that reads: "no person... shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself." This provision was designed to prevent the government from using force or coercion to obtain a statement or confession that might be used by the police in place of other evidence.
In any criminal proceeding such as a Virginia DUI charge, there are mainly 2 instances when you can invoke your right to remain silent:
- After you have been arrested for DUI in Virginia and read your Miranda Rights; or
- During your trial if you and your Virginia DUI defense attorney agree-based on the specifics of your case-that you should not take the witness stand.
After your arrest, you should be notified of your Miranda Rights by the arresting officer or investigator who expects to question you about your DUI charge. If the police officer or investigator already has sufficient evidence to charge you with the crime, they may not question you and consequently, may not read you your rights.
Once you have been read your rights, however, and the police officer or investigator asks you questions which may implicate a DUI, you can politely tell the police officer that you choose to plea the Fifth. This will stop you from accidentally revealing any information that may be self-incriminating and damage your case later on.
If you choose to plea the Fifth during your Virginia DUI trial, then a court will not be allowed to force you to take the witness stand. Furthermore, a jury can not consider your silence as an implication of guilt. The jury may only consider the evidence presented in the trial.
If you have recently been charged with a Virginia DUI, you may want to know more about pleading the Fifth Amendment. To do so you can visit our article Can Pleading the Fifth After a Virginia DUI Arrest Help My Case?
Virginia DUI Lawyer Bob Battle has the experience and ability to help his clients use these errors to mount a successful DUI defense. To learn more about Virginia DUI, get a free copy of Bob Battle's consumer guide, How to Choose a DUI Lawyer in Virginia. Or, contact 804-673-5600 to schedule your legal consultation today.