In Riverside County and the rest of the U.S., people have a constitutional right to refuse to answer any questions or make any incriminating statements to law enforcement regarding a crime or criminal activity.
The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects this right against self-incrimination, and as an experienced criminal defense attorney in Riverside County far too often I see good people with positive intentions waive this right. The results of self incrimination are very serious and often change the outcome of a case.
The Right Not To Testify
The Fifth Amendment gives a defendant the right not to testify at the criminal trial. The prosecutor and judge cannot force a defendant to testify if he or she decides against it. When a defendant exercises his or her right against self-incrimination, the jury is not allowed to consider that refusal when deciding if the person is guilty or innocent.
If a defendant chooses to testify, he or she effectively waives the Fifth Amendment right and can be cross-examined by the prosecution. During this cross-examination, the defendant cannot refuse to answer certain questions.
Fingerprints and DNA
While defendants have the right against self-incrimination, the Fifth Amendment does not apply to fingerprints and DNA samples. In criminal cases, a defendant cannot refuse to be fingerprinted or provide a blood sample for DNA testing by invoking Fifth Amendment rights.
Witnesses and the Fifth Amendment
During criminal trials, witnesses who are called to testify may refuse to answer certain questions if their answer would incriminate them or connect them to any criminal activity. A witness may assert their Fifth Amendment rights by refusing to answer certain questions because, unlike the defendant, they can be forced to provide testimony.
Get Answers about the Right against Self-Incrimination
If you are facing a trial on criminal charges, consider getting advice from an expert Riverside criminal defense lawyer. Discuss your options and get help deciding whether to invoke your right against self-incrimination.
Contact us today by calling (951) 683-5357 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation.
The above summary of the right against self-incrimination is by no means all-inclusive and is not legal advice. For the latest information on self-incrimination, speak to a criminal defense attorney in your area.