taking the Fifth
A popular phrase that refers to a witness's refusal to testify on the ground that the testimony might incriminate the witness in a crime. The principle is based on the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which provides that "No person . . . shall be compelled to be a witness against himself," and is applied to state courts by the Fourteenth Amendment. (See also: self-incrimination)
Category: Criminal Law
Category: Small Claims Court & Lawsuits

Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary. . 2009.


taking the Fifth
v. Slang. Allusion to a person asserting his right under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution to not give testimony or produce evidence that might be self-incriminating.

Webster's New World Law Dictionary. . 2000.

taking the Fifth
n.
   the refusal to testify on the ground that the testimony might tend to incriminate the witness in a crime, based on the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, which provides that "No person:shall be compelled to be a witness against himself," applied to state courts by the 14th Amendment. The term became famous during televised Senate committee hearings on organized crime in 1951, when a series of crime bosses "took the Fifth."
   See also: self-incrimination

Law dictionary. . 2013.

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