Do I need to show up to an out-of-state court trial b/c of a subpoena WITH an incorrect address on it?

Asked over 1 year ago - Eugene, OR

Hi, I received a subpoena to appear in an Oregon court as a witness. I am also the "victim" in this case. I did NOT choose to press any charges against the defendant but the state of Oregon decided they were going to press charges against the defendant. I support the defendant and am from Michigan. I am in Michigan right now. The paper subpoena was sent to the incorrect address in Oregon (not where I live!) I was wondering on the grounds of self-incrimination, travel, incorrect addresses, or anything else, do I have to show up in court (in Oregon)?? If so, I am in Michigan and if I stay in Michigan, and do not enter Oregon, they can't arrest/touch me correct? Can Michigan extradit me? The police probably are assuming I'll testify against the defedant but I will not.

Additional information

Additionally, the police didn't even listen to me from the start; now they're forcing me to incriminate the defendant. I don't even agree with everything written in the full police report (of which I obtained a copy and read). The trial is in June. I wanted to revise my statements which I initially was planning on doing because I was not clear-headed at the time (in fact I was pregnant and didn't know it), and the police embellished what actually happened. They are forcing me to incriminate my fiance (the defendant) I know that as a witness if I refuse to testify they can pretty much arrest me too! Should I still contact the arresting officer? Will it help or hurt the defendant? I had already made several attempts to contact the officers but the arresting officer was on vacation and another wasn't with the PD anymore! Any advice would so greatly help with our situation in Oregon!

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Troy Austin Pickard

    Contributor Level 17

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . ORS 136.595 says that in criminal cases, subpoenas must be delivered to witnesses personally. So if someone just receives the DA's subpoena in their mailbox, that is not personal delivery and that subpoena has no force of law behind it. Depending on what the subpoena says, it may actually be a fraud.

    However, if you are interested in getting the government to stop its persecution of this defendant, there are other things you can do. You should call a criminal defense lawyer for specific advice.

    Portland Defender
    1001 Southwest 5th Avenue #1100
    Portland, OR 97204
    (503) 592-0606

  2. Jay Bodzin

    Contributor Level 20

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . First of all: There is no such thing as "pressing charges." This is a common misconception. Criminal charges are investigated by the police and referred to the District Attorney, who decides whether to file a case or not. Private citizens, including crime victims, can contact the police to report a crime and can cooperate with the DA in making their case, but that's all they can do. They have no legal authority to compel (or to refuse to allow) a criminal prosecution.

    That said, crime victims do have certain rights under the Oregon constitution. To take advantage of these rights, you need to be certified as a victim by the court. (It's not clear from your question whether you were the victim of a crime, but I assume from your use of language that you might have been.) These include the right to be present at critical stages of the proceedings, to be consulted about charging decisions (but not to unilaterally make those decisions), and to resist discovery attempts from the defendant. But they do not include the right to refuse to appear for a subpoena. If you have been summoned by a subpoena, then legally, you must appear. Failure to do so could result in a warrant for your arrest, which the Michigan police forces could execute.(An incorrect address does not invalidate the legal force of the subpoena.) Furthermore, if you appear as a witness in court, you are required to tell the truth - you cannot decide "not to testify against" anyone. You do have the right to request reasonable fees and reimbursement for your travel - which, if you're coming from Michigan, could be pretty substantial.

    Obviously I don't know just what all happened, but I would suggest that you contact an attorney in Oregon and see if you're eligible to receive victim status in the case. This would give you a lot more options in dealing with the DA, and grant you a voice in the process which might compel them to dismiss it if that's really what you want.

    Please read the following notice:

    Jay Bodzin is licensed to practice law in the State of Oregon and... more
  3. J Christopher Minor

    Contributor Level 14

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . Not only is there a defect in the manner of service, but it is my recollection that an Oregon subpoena, by itself, cannot compel you to appear from out of state. There are some other, more complex, procedures for procuring out of state witnesses, but that seems unlikely in these circumstances. Follow the suggestion that you make sure the defendant has a lawyer, and then work with the lawyer to get the charges dismissed (which seems like a real possibility, given that you, the victim, are a reluctant out-of-state witness.

    This comment is general in nature and is not intended as legal advice. It does not create an attorney client... more

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