Can I Plead the 5th?

Note: The DearEsq free 'ask a lawyer' site is offered as a free informational service to the public and is not intended as legal advice. Laws vary from state-to-state, and in addition every situation is unique, and relevant facts may not be known. The answer to the question posed below may not apply to in your state or to your situation. For legal advice in your state and your situation you should consult with an attorney in your state who is familiar with the rules and laws in your state.

I was subpoenaed to appear and testify against my own father in a criminal case involving drugs. I don’t want to testify against my own father. Can I just plead the 5th or will I be held in contempt of court like the prosecuting attorney told me would happen if I didn’t testify against my father? If not, what about pleading the 5th on the grounds that my testimony may incriminate myself? Would either of these work on getting out of testifying against my own father? If not, is there anything I could do or say that would help my in my difficult situation regarding my father.

I cannot give you legal advice for your particular situation. You need to consult with a local criminal law attorney to discuss the matter in confidence with him/her. She/he will be able to guide you in the best direction regarding if you can or should invoke your fifth amendment right.

For educational purposes, generally when a witness invokes their fifth amendment right upon taking the stand, the witness can choose which questions he or she feels comfortable answering. If a witness refuses to answer specific questions, the prosecutor in the case may offer him or her immunity in exchange for his or her testimony. This means that, should the witness’s testimony include any details that incriminate him or herself, the prosecutor will not charge the witness with a crime. In cases where immunity is not an option, the prosecutor may be willing reduce the charge(s) in exchange for a full testimony.

Note, the fifth amendment is usually invoked by a witness that was involved in the crime and seeks to refrain from providing testimony due to self-incrimination.