Tallahassee, FL asked in Civil Litigation for Florida

Q: I am scheduled for a defamation deposition in Leon County but they are only asking questions about my business.

I am being sued defamation of Character. However, it has now turned into trying to put me out of business. Opposing counsel is only asking about my new business venture and who I am collaborating with. Can I use the 5 amendment because I am certain that another lawsuit will come from my providing information about my business. HELP

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2 Lawyer Answers
Charles M.  Baron
Charles M. Baron
  • Hollywood, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: "Taking the Fifth" is solely to invoke your right against self-incrimination, to prevent potential CRIMINAL prosecution. If your only fear is being sued CIVILLY, the Fifth Amendment does not apply. If opposing counsel is going on a "fishing expedition" for facts that do not remotely relate to the case at hand, and that would result in divulging trade secrets that should be kept confidential, you must move for a protective order. Sounds like you're not currently represented by counsel; if so, you should schedule a consultation with an attorney to at least get advice on exactly what to do if your feared deposition scenario arises, so that you don't subject yourself to potential court sanctions. Much better, though, is if you are represented by counsel throughout the case. Attempting to represent yourself in this type of case would be like attempting to perform an appendectomy on yourself.

Bruce Alexander Minnick and Terrence H Thorgaard agree with this answer

Terrence H Thorgaard
Terrence H Thorgaard
  • Freeeport, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: No, you can't refuse to answer on the basis of the Fifth Amendment; that only applies in the case you are asked questions the answers to which would tend to incriminate you (i.e. expose you to criminal charges). Another lawsuit would be civil, not criminal.

If you don't have an attorney, you should get one; your attorney could, among other things, give you answers to questions such as the ones you have asked here.

Bruce Alexander Minnick agrees with this answer

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