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5th Amendment (self-incrimination) Question

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5th Amendment (self-incrimination) Question :
Submitted: 8 years ago.Category: Legal
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Answered in 5 minutes by:
6/13/2010
Lawyer: Cedric, Attorney replied 8 years ago
Cedric
Cedric, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 2,899
Experience: Lawyer with several years of litigation experience in civil and criminal law.
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
Myself, wife and friends filed a lawsuit against five individuals that owed us money. The individuals came back with a counterclaim to try and hold up or get out of paying the debt back.

We have a trial date set for the end of the year. I have all the evidence ready to go for various aspects of the case. The other side is very manipulative and smooth. In my instance, they are going to have their attorney make things up, ask confusing questions and overall try to confuse me when they call me on the stand.

I would like to not even talk to the other side when called to answer questions about the counterclaims asserted against myself. Instead I would like to have my attorney call me and then provide a detailed breakdown (with evidence) on my relationship with the other side, with facts about the debt owed and the counterclaims asserted. I would like to state why I think the counterclaims were asserted and provide all my evidence. Basically just have my attorney call me and let me lay everything out.

I let the other side manipulate and confuse me for years, wasting my life and taking my money. I don't want them to get to me in court. I just want to plead the 5th Amendment and not even answer one question from the other side in my case. I know I will have to give facts about my friends and wife.

You would have to be in my situation to understand the evil and manipulative nature of the other side. Plus I know if will be very nerve-racking anyway on the stand. I don't want to risk having them try to spin things and confuse myself and everybody.

So in short, I would like to please the 5th and not answer one single question from the other side, even if they ask my name. I just don't want to answer anything about myself. Instead I would just like to have my attorney call me and I will lay things out with the actual evidence.

Is there anything wrong with with? Are there any consequences? I will be laying out everything with evidence to my attorney, I just don't want to talk to the other side on the stand about myself and the counterclaims they assert. Is this okay?
Lawyer: Cedric, Attorney replied 8 years ago
If it's a civil lawsuit, the 5th Amendment doesn't apply, that's the one problem.
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
The constitutional privilege against self-incrimination applies to a civil proceeding. The U.S. Supreme Court stated the following:

"The privilege is not ordinarily dependent upon the nature of the proceeding in which the testimony is sought or is to be used. It applies alike to civil and criminal proceedings, wherever the answer might tend to subject to criminal responsibility him who gives it."

See McCarthy v. Arndstein 266 U.S. 34, *40, 45 S.Ct. 16, 17 (U.S. 1924).
Lawyer: Cedric, Attorney replied 8 years ago
Yes, but only if it would be likely to subject you to criminal proceedings.

But, you're right, to be safe, it would be best to plead the 5th.
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