Pleading The Fifth In Florida Courts

I wasn’t surprised at all. Aaron Hernandez, former star tight end for the New England Patriots, who is facing first degree murder charges, will plead the Fifth Amendment in his pending civil lawsuit. In that federal suit, Hernandez is being accused of shooting 30 year old Alexander Bradley in the face outside a Miami strip club. Apparently the two had been arguing immediately before Hernandez pulled out a gun. Bradley seeks over $100,000 from Hernandez to compensate him for his damages.

The primary, if not sole reason why Hernandez is invoking his right to remain silent, is ensure that he in no way incriminates himself. He has a lot to protect. He’s facing a life sentence if convicted in his murder case.

His attorneys initially petitioned the Miami judge to request a delay of the civil case until he resolves his murder case. Unfortunately for Hernandez, the judge denied his request.

The judge’s ruling leaves Hernandez with only two options. One option is that he doesn’t invoke his rights. That means, he will have to answer all the questions asked of him. I’m certain that some of the questions asked of him will pertain to his pending criminal case. Many questions overlap. Both cases involve alleged use of a gun. Both involve allegations of a shooting committed by Hernandez. Invariably, he’d have to speak about his pending criminal case.

The other option is for him to invoke his rights. As a veteran criminal defense attorney, I couldn’t let him testify in his pending civil case. It would be malpractice, in my opinion, to advise Hernandez to do anything other than keep his mouth shut and let the chips fall where they may in the pending civil case. With rare exception, I typically advise my clients to invoke their rights whenever they have pending civil cases while their criminal matter is still open.