Martin Shkreli is one of the most talked about men in America right now. In his recent appearance before a congressional committee, Shrekli pleaded the fifth when asked questions about highly increased drug prices.
Christopher Corso, founder of Corso Law Group weighed in on the national controversy and if Martin Shkreli had the right to plead the Fifth in such a serious case.
Does the Fifth Amendment even apply in this situation?
The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution protects citizens from self-incrimination, stating that no person “shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” As Shrkeli’s hearing was not a matter of criminal inquiry, was his taking the Fifth an appropriate response?
“[The Fifth Amendment] covers any statement that would tend to give rise to criminal liability on the speaker’s part,” says criminal defense lawyer Christopher Corso, founder of Corso Law Group. “Mr. Shkreli fully had the right to plead the Fifth.” The hearing was more about the ethical than the criminal implications of Shkreli’s actions, but Corso says it comes down to who’s making the determination about what was and was not legal.
“Until you’re with attorneys, you may be [unwittingly] adding information,” cautions Corso, “Answers that may perhaps—even in a miniscule way—open yourself up to criminal liability is a problem. Therefore, he is able to plead the Fifth.”
Did Congress intentionally try to make Shkreli look bad?
Bottom line: No matter what you think of Shkreli, he was not improperly invoking his constitutional rights. “As somebody that advocates for the constitution,” says Corso, “I would say no, the 5th Amendment was not abused.”
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