Can You Plead the Fifth in a Family Law Case?Putnam Law Office
While criminal cases can differ from civil cases, they can also share some similarities. One is the right to assert one’s Fifth Amendment privilege, not to be forced to say anything that can self-incriminate. In criminal cases, this protection and right allow a defendant from having to express anything that could hurt their case. In addition, in criminal cases, pleading the fifth cannot be something that a judge and jury use against a criminal defendant as a means of determining guilt or innocence. Though, in civil cases, the same standard does not apply. Pleading the fifth may shield you from having to answer certain questions, but that doesn’t mean that your refusal to provide answers to questions will not be used against you.
If you are facing divorce, going through a child custody matter, or dealing with another type of family law issue in Oklahoma, you need to know your rights and what will work out best for your circumstances. When it comes to divorce, paternity, rights to children, division of assets, and other issues related to family law, ensuring that your interests are protected and that you secure the best possible outcome is critical. In these situations, having experienced legal counsel on your side advising you on your best options and helping you work through these stressful and emotional life experiences can be advantageous.
For help and answers to all of your family law questions in Oklahoma, the Oklahoma City family law attorney at the Putnam Law Office offers support.
How the Fifth Amendment Affects a Civil Case
You are permitted to assert the fifth in a civil case like a divorce case, for example. Nothing is stopping you from doing so because, ultimately, it is your right and your privilege. However, the judge and jury in your case can use your assertion as a negative against you. This can affect the outcome of your case.
Oklahoma family law indicates that if a person in a civil case cites the fifth amendment, they may be doing so because what they will say will hurt them. As a result, the judge and jury can conclude that there is damaging information against them.
Also, if a person goes into the discovery portion of a civil case where they are allowed to request information from the other side just as the other side can request information from them, the fifth amendment can be applied. During this information transfer and gathering part of a legal case, it may be decided that pleading the fifth in response to questioning will be a way to avoid providing information that can jeopardize one’s position. Though, when it comes time for trial, if a person wants to change their mind and take back their decision to plead the fifth, they will likely be unable to do so. Once a person pleads the fifth during discovery, they pretty much have to stick with that decision and will be unable to go back on it.
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There may be reasons to plead the fifth during a legal proceeding in a family law situation, and then there may be reasons to reconsider doing so. Either way, your attorney can give you recommendations and strategic legal counsel on what options will be the best for your situation.
For help with all matters related to family law in Oklahoma, please call the Oklahoma City divorce lawyer at the Putnam Law Office at (405) 849-9149 to schedule your free consultation.