Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The 5th, Revisited

No person ... shall be compelled, in a criminal case to be a witness against himself[.]
Fifth Amendment, in part

We spend so much time training and preparing in case we ever have to defend ourselves. We research the right firearm, ammunition, and even take classes to hone our skills. We dry fire, practice the steps to firearm presentation, and improve our trigger control.

All that is excellent and necessary.

And yet, we devote little time to understanding the fundamental rights that will come to play once we encounter an investigation--whether potential self defense, or a simple speeding ticket.

People tend to forget the importance of the presumption of innocence. Sure, we've had the concept hammered into our heads. "You are innocent until proven guilty."

But, what does that truly mean?

At the very least, it means that you have no obligation to open your mouth and assist those who seek to investigate you. Taking it a step further, it means that you should not offer information at all. During questioning, the concept is often turned on its head: "If you have nothing to hide, just answer a few questions." Actually, the better concept is: "Since I have nothing to hide, I have nothing to say."

Even if you do have something to hide, the time will come later on where you can consult with an attorney and have a fighting change to defend yourself. In the meantime, keep silent.

Obstinate, stubborn, pig-headed? No, just fully aware of your rights. No need to argue with them, no need to match wits or prove intellectual superiority (you'll lose--they argue for a living). Just simply require that they prove their entire case without your assistance. After all, if they have a solid case, they don't need your help. If they don't have a solid case, they'd better get one before they deprive you of life, property, or freedom. It's not just making sure they do their job, it's making sure they respect the Constitution.

Gate-crashers to take Fifth if subpoenaed

I am aware of statements made by certain members on the Committee on Homeland Security in which premature conclusions concerning my criminal liability have been made. ... The current circumstances warrant invocation of my Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination."

Good for you.

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