If I am subpoenaed to witness against someone, what are the consequences of my pleading the 5th?

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If I am subpoenaed to witness against someone, what are the consequences of my pleading the 5th?

I was involved in a minor accident with a gentleman recently, in which I was at fault. After the accident, I realized that I had no significant damage to my vehicle and fled the scene. The gentlemen chased me in for some distance, and we finally agreed to resolve the matter. However, while in possession my insurance information, he attempted to call the owner of the vehicle to come to the scene. I then flagged down a police cruiser. It became apparent that the person did not have any form of ID. Officers placed him under arrest for driving w/o license. I also told the police that he was at fault, which was untrue.

Asked on May 20, 2013 under Accident Law, Maryland

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You can only "plead the Fifth" IF the answer to the question would tend to incriminate you criminally--that is, it may make it liable for a crime which you committed or participated in. Therefore, you could potentially plead it in relation to lying to the police and filing a false report (claiming he was at fault, when he wasn't), but only in regards to that; you cannot more generally refuse to testify against someone, but again, may only refuse about criminal acts you committed or participated  in.


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