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Join the conversation! There are now 14 comments on this chapter's page 54. INNOCENT People Take the Fifth. What are your thoughts?
  1. Gregory Bogosian says

    Can all testimony be used to help convict the person who gave it at a criminal trial? Are there certain categories of testimony that legally cannot be used at a criminal trial?

    • No, there isn’t. I’m inclined to believe if there were, it would make it a lot easier for Congress, police, grand juries, and many others to actually get useful testimony from people instead of scaring them into silence for fear of prosecution.

    • Great question, and one I’m not going to answer on this page. Because it’s going to be answered in the comic a few pages from now, and I don’t want to get ahead of things here.

  2. Librarian says

    Quick question;
    When you’re charged with a crime, the presumption usually tends to be “guilty” and the trial is there give a chance to prove innocence. According to legal maxim “Silence is construed as consent,” being silent in the face of your accusers could be considered to be consent of their allegations.
    So, how does one rebut the initial presumption of guilt and force the court to prove your guilt rather than require you to prove your innocence?

    • That’s not exactly what I wanted to ask, but it’s a good question nevertheless.

      A better question, does the right to remain silent include the right Not to identify oneself?

      • No, the right to remain silent (a.k.a. the privilege against self-incrimination) does not always (or even normally) include the right to identify oneself.

        Usually, one’s name isn’t a fact the prosecution will have to prove at trial, so it wouldn’t be considered incriminating. There are all kinds of “pedigree” questions the police are usually allowed to ask without any Fifth Amendment issue — name, date of birth, Social Security number, home address, etc. — because those facts aren’t relevant to whether you’d committed a crime or not.

        There are extremely rare occasions, of course, where one’s real name (or SSN or DOB etc) really is a link in the chain the prosecution might have to prove. Most people would have a hard time thinking of an example off the top of their head. But in such cases, yes, the Fifth Amendment would apply, and it would be perfectly appropriate to assert the privilege rather than answer the question. (Any other time, one would simply be acting like an idiot and exposing oneself to contempt of cop, if not contempt of court.)

        • But, isn’t who I am, My business, and up for me to decide to whom I divulge my personal information? Why should I give that information to anyone who might be a danger to my freedom?

          Anyway, what is Contempt of Cop? I’ve never heard of it, is it a lawful charge?

          • “contempt of cop” is shorthand slang for “failure to obey an officer’s commands”. Or, in more cynical fashion, “you pissed the cop off and he arrested you”

            • I thought you needed to be charged with a crime before you could be arrested – that’s what warrants are for – the only exceptions are for preach of the peace and being observed conducting felonious acts.

              What remedy is provided for being arrested on false charges?

              • I don’t know where you heard that, but you were misinformed.

                Arrest warrants are actually quite rare. Police usually make lawful arrests without warrants — and all they need is probable cause to believe that the individual had committed a crime, whether they witnessed it or not.

                Review the Fourth Amendment section for more details.

    • Supposedly, there is a presumption of innocence and it is up to the state to prove it’s case regardless of anything I do or do not say. The problem is, there are to many people who believe that they never would have arrested that man if he hadn’t done it. They also will not believe anything you say, so why say anything that might be misconstrued?

    • Consent only applies to requests. When someone accuses you of a crime, it is not a request, it is a descriptive statement. Their is no such thing as consenting to a descriptive statement.

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