1. Ryan Elder

    Ryan Elder Senior Member

    Apr 15, 2015
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    Will this court scenario work realistically?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Ryan Elder, Apr 16, 2015.

    In my screenplay, I am brainstorming ideas to tie everything together. I was researching about how in court if a witness does not want to testify he/she can "plead the fifth" as they say. In my script a witness is subpoenaed to testify but the day before her trial date, when she is scheduled to appear, she goes out and commits a violent felony. The cops find out about it, and on tell the court. On the stand, the lawyers question her on why she committed the felony because they believe that it's related to the case. She decides to plead the fifth, and does not want to incriminate herself.

    However, is a witness allowed to plead the fifth, if it's pertaining to cross examination questions that are not related to the original case? The original case is her being a witness to a kidnapping. She can legally plead the fifth to questions pertaining to that if she wishes. But if a witness goes out and commits a different crime before her court date, can she plead the fifth to that to, since it's not related to the original case at hand?
  2. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

    Mar 9, 2010
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    But if it's not related to the case at hand, why are they asking her questions about it?

    However, my limited, mostly television-fiction-based, understanding is that you can't be required to incriminate yourself, period.

    A further television-fed nuance is that I think that if you're not at risk--for example, if you've been granted immunity for whatever you're incriminating yourself about--you can't plead the fifth. But that sounds so tidy and cute that I can't help wondering if a scriptwriter made it up.
  3. Ben414

    Ben414 Contributor Contributor

    Aug 1, 2013
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    Have you googled "witness + self incrimination?" Check out this, this, and this.

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