What is the meaning of "plead the fifth "?
Aug 17, 2018 4:35 PM
Answers · 3
This refers to the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Basically, it is the right to not "self incriminate." The government or legal system can't force you to give evidence against yourself during a trial. When you "plead the fifth," you are using (exercising) this right to not say things that could send you to jail or have legal consequences for you.
August 17, 2018
plead/take the Fifth (Amendment)- to refuse to give information against yourself in a court of law. People in the US sometimes use this expression humorously when they do not want to answer a question
August 17, 2018
It is strictly a US phrase, as others have explained, referring to constitutional rights under the US legal system. Here's an actual example. This is part of a transcript in a Senate hearing. (For people in the US who remember the 1950s: this is mystery writer Dashiel Hammett's testimony before a McCarthy Senate committee). Here is an example of someone in (a sort of) court, pleading the Fifth Amendment. At that time, in the United States, it was illegal to be a member of the Communist Party due to a law passed in 1954. Q. Are you a member of the Communist Party today? A. I decline to answer on the ground that the answer would tend to incriminate me, pleading my rights under the Fifth Amendment. Q. Were you a member of the Communist Party in 1922? A. I decline to answer on the ground that the answer might tend to incriminate me.... Q. You have written a number of books between 1922 and the present time, have you not? A. Yes.... Q. If I were to ask you as to each one of these books if you were a Communist Party member at the time you wrote the book what would your answer be? A. The same. Q. You would refuse on the ground you stated? A. Yes. Q. [Did you ever write a story dealing with social problems?] A. Yes. As a matter of fact, roughly one that I remember, a short story called ''Night Shade.'' ... which had to do with Negro-white relations. . . . Q. When you wrote this short story, ''Night Shade,'' were you a member of the Communist Party? A. I decline to answer on the ground the answer may tend to incriminate me. Q. Did that story in any way reflect the Communist line? A. That is a difficult -- on the word ''reflect'' I would say no, it didn't reflect it. It was against racism.
August 17, 2018
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