taking the Fifth

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Also found in: Idioms.

taking the Fifth

n. the refusal to testify on the ground that the testimony might tend to incriminate the witness in a crime, based on the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution which provides that "No person....shall be compelled to be a witness against himself," applied to state courts by the 14th Amendment. The term became famous during televised Senate committee hearings on organized crime in 1951, when a series of crime bosses "took the Fifth." (See: self-incrimination)

References in periodicals archive ?
Coloccini, seeking private assurances that Newcastle would kick on if he committed his longterm future, was happy to in his the form deals plead the fifth.
Asked whether he was now a member of the Conservative Party, Mr Powell said: "I plead the Fifth Amendment.
Officials behind the now discredited "Dossier" plead the Fifth.
Blake Hendrix, criminal defense attorney for Rogers in Little Rock, said he wasn't aware that his client decided to plead the Fifth in the First Arkansas lawsuit.
Concepts such as "innocent until proven guilty," right to a jury trial of one's peers, right of appeal, and the difference between civil and criminal standards ("preponderance of the evidence" versus "beyond the shadow of a reasonable doubt") and all those Latin phrases (res gestae, res ipsa loquitor, stare decisis (reliance on precedent) and habeas corpus (a writ requiring appearance before a court) and rules such as the ability to plead the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution are blessings of our judicial system.
He said: "I've probably said enough about this so I'll plead the Fifth on that one.
It's crazy that we still let refs and assistants plead the fifth on key decisions.
While many of these types of settlements allow banks to plead the Fifth Amendment when it comes to admission of guilt, there has been a recent trend to hold banks accountable and require them to admit they were at fault as a stipulation of a settlement.
If not, I think I will just plead the fifth amendment.
One witness in the trial actually tried to plead the Fifth Amendment rather than admit in open court to having engaged in homosexual acts with Gacy.
Plead The Fifth finished well beaten in a visor on his debut last month but he should improve a good deal and the fact Meehan fits a tongue-tie could also be significant as the trainer is 6-15 (40 per cent) with his runners wearing the aid for the first time in the past two years.