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I got a subpoena for witness on a D.V.,Assault, criminal contempt. Can I plead the 5th?

Marysville, WA |
Filed under: Domestic violence

I got the subpoena today and the court date was I signed for it and he said he would be back...I want to know if I can plead the 5 th on this subpoena..?

Attorney Answers 3

  1. Best answer

    You need to consult with a criminal law attorney. Normally you must honor a subpoena, and whether or not you can plead the 5th depends on the detailed circumstances. Also, the subpoena may be untimely if you were served the day of the hearing; but it's probably not worth the risk to fail to appear. If you do appear today, you can explain to the judge what your dilemma is: i.e., that (1) you were served with the subpoena today; and (2) you need to consult with an attorney about whether you can or should plead the 5th. See my AVVO Legal Guides on witnesses and subpoenaes for more information about the legal issues raised by your inquiry. Click on my photo. On my AVVO home page click on "View Contributions" or scroll down further and click on "Legal Guides." Scroll down the list of my 29 Legal Guides and select the topics relevant to your question. If you like my answer and Legal Guides, please make sure you mark them as “helpful.”

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  2. It's unclear what the situation is if the court date was today...your best option is to take it to an attorney to go over the specific facts. But as a general matter, the 5th amendment protects against self-incrimination, it is not an all-encompassing right to refuse to participate in the criminal justice system. If you are subpoenaed, you must appear in court as ordered. If testifying would cause you to admit to your own criminal activity, you can "plead the 5th" once you are on the witness stand; otherwise, if you fail to appear, or show up and simply refuse to testify, you could be held in contempt of court and possibly even jailed until you cooperate. If there is a specific reason you don't want to testify, you should talk about it with an attorney privately.

    Avvo answers are attorney opinions offered for informational purposes only, and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Use of the Avvo Q&A forum does not create any attorney-client relationship.

  3. Pleading the 5th Amendment would have to be avoiding saying something that would say you did something wrong or against the law. Something like you hit or assault the other person. The State has a statement from you that you gave police indicating that this other person assualted you. If that is true then you need to decide to go to court or not. If you were personally served with the subpoena by an officer or someone that was 18 years old then you must appear in court or the court could/would issue a material witness warrant for you and take you to court. If the state sent the subpoena through the mail then you can decide whether to go or not and they can't issue a warrant for you. Always telll the truth.

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