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What Does it Mean to Plead The Fifth?

What Does it Mean to Plead The Fifth?

┬áThe term “plead the fifth” is one of the most widely recognized pleadings in the United States. It is based upon the 5th Amendment (Fifth Amendment) within the Constitution of the United States. The Fifth Amendment prohibits government officials from abusing their authority during legal proceedings.
It also protects individuals from self-incrimination. When an individual chooses to plead the fifth, he/she cannot be required to answer any questions or provide any information that may incriminate him/her. It is similar to the rights outlined within the Miranda rights. When an individual is detained, he/she is permitted to remain silent. This means that he/she is not required to provide authorities with any information. If he/she does choose to answer questions or provide information, the information that he/she details can be used to convict him/her of a criminal offense.
Pleading the fifth is a process that applies specifically to testifying within a court. When an individual is acting as a witness during a trial, he/she can refuse to provide the court with any information that may be used against him/her. If the witness believes that answering a question or testify will provide the court with incriminating information, which may subsequently be used to convict him/her of a crime, than he/she can choose to plead the fifth.
However, when under oath and testifying in a court, an individual must provide information pertaining to the defendant. He/she cannot choose to withhold information that will incriminate the defendant or any other individual. Unless the information incriminates him/her directly, a witness must provide this information.

Entering Into A Plea Bargain

Entering Into A Plea Bargain

Both criminal and civil trials can take an extensive period of time, and cost the state or federal government and the defendant an significant amount of money to operate the trial. A plea bargain is one technique used to reduce the duration of a trial and ensure a conviction. 
When an individual is accused of committing a criminal offense, he/she may enter into the trial facing serious criminal charges. In some instances, the prosecutor will offer the accused individual a plea bargain. A plea bargain will help to reduce the severity of the criminal conviction and the subsequent sentencing acquired by the defendant, if he/she agrees to plead guilty to the charges. Plea bargains have caused a significant amount of controversy, as they often allow dangerous criminals to escape the punishment that they deserve. 
There are a variety of different plea bargains available for prosecutors to offer. For example, when a defendant confesses his/her guilt to a charge that is less serious than the crime that he/she was originally accused of, this is known as charge bargaining. Sentence bargaining occurs when a defendant agrees to plead guilty and in return receives a less severe sentence.
Plea bargains often cause considerable confusion and complications for defendants. A defendant must choose whether or not he/she should combat the accusation and maintain his/her innocence, or accept the plea bargain. In some instances, even truly innocent individuals will accept a plea bargain, in order to avoid the more severe conviction and sentencing, that may occur if he/she is falsely convicted. As a result, many individuals oppose the use of plea bargains. 

Facts About the Insanity Plea

Facts About the Insanity Plea

 
The insanity plea, otherwise known as the insanity defense, is a type of criminal defense employed by defendants, in order to diminish their criminal liability. When a defendant employs the insanity plea, he/she is claiming that he/she cannot be held accountable for his/her offense, because he/she is legally insane. It is important to note that there is a different between insanity and mental illness. 
 
 
While a mentally ill individual will often have diminished culpability, the insanity plea is rarely successful in reducing an individual's liability. In order for the insanity plea to be effective, an individual must be declared legally insane by a doctor. This requires an extensive medical examination. In most instances, an individual who has pleaded insanity will be required to spend time in a psychiatric hospital.
 
 
 
The insanity plea is a type of affirmative defense. When this plea is used, the defendant is not denying that he/she committed the criminal offense in question. In actuality, he/she is admitting that he/she was responsible for the crime. However, the insanity plea suggests that, due to an individual's mental state, he/she was not able to rationalize or control his/her behavior, or consider the consequences, when the offense was committed. 
 
 
If a defendant was not able to recognize the difference between wrong and right, than he/she cannot be held liable for the crime. In the United States, the insanity plea is not used to prove a defendant's innocence or dismiss his/her case. Instead, it is often used to reduce the severity of the conviction and sentence acquired by the defendant.
 

A Quick Guide to the Alford Plea

A Quick Guide to the Alford Plea

 
In rare cases, a defendant who is being tried for a criminal offense may employ the Alford plea. The Alford plea is slightly controversial, as it is not technically a declaration of innocence or an admission of guilt. When a defendant utilizes the Alford plea, he/she does not plead guilty to the crime that he/she is being accused of. 
 
 
He/she continues to assert that, to the best of his/her knowledge, he/she is innocent of the crimes that he/she is being charged with. However, he/she admits that, based upon the available evidence, the charge will most likely be proven by the prosecution. After pleading in this manner, a defendant will be convicted of the crimes that he/she is accused of. Subsequently, he/she will receive a criminal sentence that he/she must complete.
 
 
There are a number of circumstances that may cause an individual to employ the Alford plea. For example, if a defendant has no memory of the offense, but the evidence indicates that he/she is guilty, than he/she may utilize this defense. Intoxication, trauma, and amnesia are all conditions that may cause an individual to maintain no memory of the event. 
 
 
Therefore, an individual may believe that he/she is innocent, despite incriminating evidence presented by the prosecution. In some instances, an individual may not be able to admit to him/herself that he/she is guilty of the accused crimes. In cases such as this, the Alford plea may be used. Pleading in this manner may allow an individual to obtain a less severe criminal sentence, than if he/she maintains his/her innocence throughout the entire trial and is ultimately convicted.