CanI plead the fifth as a material witness for the stateon a criminal burglary case?

I called the police because I found some items that I believed my son brought into the house and which I also thought were stolen. An officer came to my house and took possession of the items. He then asked me to write a statement about the items I found and believed were brought in by my son. The officer began to tell me about a burglary that had happened a couple of days prior near my home. A warrant was issued on my son for that burglary and the state is using the statement that I wrote on the items to charge my son.

Asked on December 1, 2010 under Criminal Law, Florida


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The right to plead or take the 5th amendment is a right against self incrimination.  In other words, it is a right given under the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States that allows a witness under oath during a trial or some other formal hearing (like a Congressional hearing) to refuse to answer a question if answering that question would lead to the witness being accused of the crime.  So if you are refusing to answer because answering would make you a suspect in the crime then you can refuse to answer.  But refusing to answer to implicate your son or committing perjury or recanting (taking back the statement) will only get you in to trouble here.  Seek counsel on the matter in your area.  Good luck.

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