What Happens if I Plead the Fifth Your Rights in Court

The United States’ Fifth Amendment states that no one can compel an individual in a criminal case to be a witness against themselves. Also known as “pleading the fifth,” this law guarantees a person has the right to protect themselves from self-incrimination. Pleading the fifth is different depending on the trial—civil or criminal—and whether an individual is a witness. If you find yourself wondering what happens if I plead the fifth, we lay out the information you need below.

Your Rights to Plead the Fifth

Pleading the Fifth in a Criminal Trial

The most common application of the Fifth Amendment is in a criminal trial. This is when the defendant always has the right and opportunity to refuse to testify in court. No one in court, neither judge, prosecution, or jury, can make the defendant take the stand. Even better for the defendant, the jury cannot use the defendant’s choice to plead the fifth as an aspect for their deliberations. However, if the defendant does not make this choice, they must answer all questions posed.

Pleading the Fifth in a Civil Trial

Invoking the Fifth Amendment in a civil trial can come at a high price. Unlike a criminal trial, a jury can make assumptions about the defendant if he/she chooses not to testify. This can play a large role in the jury’s deliberations as it gives them a reason to draw an adverse inference. An attorney might have the defendant speak up anyway as it will create a better situation for the defendant.

Pleading the Fifth as a Witness

On the other hand, being a witness in a trial—civil or criminal—allows you the Fifth Amendment right as well. If an individual is a witness to a crime or action, he or she can plead the fifth and not answer the question if it will lead to self-incrimination. Witnesses often go this route when they fear their testimony or answer to a question does not pertain to the case at hand. However, pleading the fifth does not allow a witness to avoid testifying altogether. More often than not, the court will subpoena witnesses, which means that they have to testify. This can sometimes lead to the witness’ immunity in exchange for a testimony. As such, the witness will not receive charges for any incriminating statements.

When Can I Not Plead the Fifth?

Pleading the Fifth only applies toward verbal evidence. Therefore, any evidence that is noncommunicative does not fall under the Fifth Amendment. For example, one cannot object to the collection of DNA, fingerprinting, or anything similar by pleading the fifth. That said, it’s important to note that the Fifth Amendment only allows the right to remain silent, not the right to complete immunity for a defendant. If you need assistance with a trial, reach out to a Portland prostitution attorney, who can aid you in deciding when to plead the fifth or to speak up.

Impaired Driving: Your DUII Rights in Oregon

There are many different terms for drunk driving: DUI, DWI, OWI, DUII, and more. Oregon specifically uses the term “driving under the influence of intoxicants” or DUII. This term encompasses more than just driving with a high blood alcohol content level and extends to impairment via drugs, alcohol, or a combination of the two.

When police pull someone over for a DUII, it’s often due to the fact that alcohol abuse is so common. According to the Cleveland Clinic, “it is estimated that 67.3% of the population consumes alcohol and that 7.4% of the population meets the criteria for alcohol abuse.” This fact has cops pulling more people over than before. Below we’ve outlined the rights you have during the DUII process—read on for more pertinent information.

What Proves a DUII Conviction?

There are two main components that result in a DUII conviction. The first is that a police officer sees you operating a vehicle on a road or premise open to the public. The second component is that the police officer must show that you were under the influence of an intoxicant. They will try to prove this with a BAC test, field sobriety tests, or with drug recognition exams. However, every citizen has rights when it comes to these three tests which are important to understand.

Refusing Field Sobriety Tests

Field sobriety tests typically include walking in a straight line or standing on one leg. If you were to perform these actions, you are consenting to a search. However, you have an absolute right to refuse the tests. Many people do not realize that they have this right since it’s the officer’s job to make it seem required. Refusal is often a good idea as officers do not necessarily design the tests for someone to pass—whether sober or intoxicated. If you refuse, you should expect to hear warnings from the officer(s).

Refusing Breathalyzer Tests

In Oregon, there are separate penalties for failing to or refusing to take a test. If you fail a breathalyzer test, license suspensions last for 90 days, and if you refuse the test this will last for one year. It is technically within your rights to refuse breathalyzer tests, however, refusing one can come with harsher penalties than if you take the test. If you refuse, the state will suspend your license, police will charge you with a “refusing a breath test” fine of $650, and if the case goes to court they can use that refusal as evidence of guilt.

Refusing the Search of Your Car

Frequently when a person is pulled over, the police will ask to search the vehicle. You have the right to refuse a search no matter where you are, especially if they do not have a warrant. Find out more about saying no to a police officer, here.

Remaining Silent

Another big aspect for anyone pulled over or charged with any crime, in general, is that you have the right to remain silent. Use that. You do not have to answer any questions that an officer asks of you. They can use anything you say against you in court, so it is often better to refrain from speaking. Your Clackamas County DUII attorney will be glad you stayed quiet!

7 Factors that Influence Your BAC Level

We’ve previously discussed how alcohol affects the body by delving into the various BAC levels. It’s important to understand those levels, and it’s just as important to recognize the different factors that influence your BAC level. According to the Center for Disease Control, “in 2016, more than 1 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol of narcotics. That’s one percent of the 111 million self-reported episodes of alcohol-impaired driving among U.S. adults each year.” To keep from adding to this statistic and to stay informed, below you’ll find the various factors that impact your BAC level.

7 Factors that Affect BAC

1. Metabolism

Metabolism differs from person to person, so the rate at which your body processes alcohol is completely different than your friend’s rate. Your body absorbs alcohol faster than it can metabolize it, so the faster you drink, the less time you give your body to process and metabolize that liquid.

2. Age/Weight/Gender

As you get older, the intoxicating effects of alcohol become stronger and more pronounced. Drinking also affects men and women differently; since women typically have lower water content levels than men, it affects them more than it does men. Those who weigh less are also more heavily influenced by alcohol than those with a higher fat percentage.

3. Rate of Consumption

The faster someone drinks, the quicker their peak BAC will raise and the more quickly they’ll get intoxicated. Your liver is how the body processes alcohol, and this organ can only process one standard drink per hour. When that rate is surpassed, more alcohol filters into the blood system, which causes people to get drunk faster.

4. Emotional State

Alcohol effects people even more than usual if they’re under stress or fatigued. Alcohol is a depressant, so if one is experiencing any form of stress, anxiety, or depression, they will be more heavily impacted by booze. When stressed, your body diverts blood from your stomach to your muscles, which slows the rate of absorption. When you calm down and your blood starts to flow normally, even in the slightest, that can result in an uptick in your BAC.

5. Diabetes

If an individual has diabetes, alcohol can affect glucose levels. Diabetics should always avoid drinking on an empty stomach as that can lead to hypoglycemia and other harmful results. Talk to a doctor so you know the healthiest way to proceed with alcohol consumption.

6. Mixing with Carbonation

Mixing liquor with water and juices will slow the absorption process in your body, whereas carbonated beverages will speed it up. The bubbles in the soda increase the rate at which alcohol passes through your stomach and into your bloodstream, which then results in a higher BAC level.

7. Food Intake

One of the worst things you can do for your body is to drink on an empty stomach. Food slows down the absorption in your bloodstream since it keeps the alcohol in your stomach for longer. When you drink on any empty stomach, not only will the alcohol speed to your bloodstream more quickly, but it will also severely impact your blood sugar and other nutritional levels.

It is of the utmost importance to pay attention to these factors if you decide to drink. Even more importantly, you need to make sure that you drink responsibly, stay safe, and you do not drink while driving. If something happens and you require legal help, get in contact with a West Linn DUII attorney.