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Do I have to testify against my child?

San Diego, CA |

I understand that it is my constitutional right to refuse to testify against my spouse. However, my son, had stolen a neighbor's car while they were out of town. As soon as I found out I punished him, and I forced him to apologize to the neighbor. The neighbor was angry and decided to press charges (the neighbor had no idea prior to the apology.) I've been told by prosecution attorneys that me testifying is absolutely crucial to the case and I will be arrested if I choose not to testify. Is this allowed? Will they know if I lie on the stand?

Attorney Answers 7

  1. First I find a good criminal defense attorney to represent your son and presumably he can provide you with some additional direction in regards to you testifying. The prosecutors can'subpoena you, however you have the right to not incriminate yourself so hypothetically if anything that you would say might incriminate you, you take your Fifth Amendment right and not testify.

    William Daley DUI / Criminal Defense
    Tele: (619) 238-1905

  2. It is not your constitutional right to refuse to testify against your spouse. Spousal privileges exist under the evidentiary rules of most states and are defined and limited by state law. As far as you testifying against your son, this is why we firmly caution posters not to discuss their cases with anyone, including family. It sounds as though the prosecutor wants to have you testify to your son's admission. It is not clear to me why your testimony is so important, since at your insistance your son also confessed to your neighbor. Perhaps you have other information. I would think that the prosecutor has the authority to require your testimony, although it may be bad prosecutorial judgment to push the matter. Of course they will know if you lie. You had this all out in front of the neighbor, remember? I suggest that you consult an attorney about your situation. And not the same attorney who is representing your son. You need independent counsel.

  3. Unless you are in some way complicit in your son's theft of the vehicle, you will be required to testified if properly subpoenaed to court. Lying on the stand can result in a perjury charge. You can contact a defense attorney and receive a free consultation about how to best address your concerns.

    Law Office of Andrew Limberg, APLC 380 S. Melrose Dr., #329 Vista, CA 92081 (760) 806-4381

  4. Absent complicity with your son, which, based upon your posting, does not appear to be the case, you would be required to testified if properly subpoenaed. Taking the stand and lying could subject you to charges for perjury. You really need to consult with a criminal defense attorney local to your area . You can contact and consult with a criminal defense attorney in your area on this one.

  5. I would only add they if you choose to invoke your right to remain silent, the DA could grant you immunity, essentially calling your bluff. You'd then be forced to remain silent in the face of a contempt citation from the court and theoretically jailed, though my experience is that this is a rare case. Hire an attorney to contact the DA to work something out.

  6. Hire yourself an attorney. You are only required to testify if you are subpoenaed to court. If you don't receive a subpoena, then you don't have to go to court, even if you know when the court is scheduled to have you testify.

    Apology to the neighbor is great philosophical and ethical advice but horrible legal advice. Next time he should apologize to god, that way he could still get into heaven but won't have to go to jail along the way.

    The above information does not establish an attorney client relationship nor is it meant to provide legal advice.

  7. Best thing to do is hire yourself, and your son, locally experienced criminal defense attorneys...preferably two who will work well together protecting each of your individual and collective interests.

    Law Offices of David Shapiro 3555 4th Avenue San Diego, CA 92103 (619) 295-3555

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