I have been summoned as a witness in a criminal case in which I am the ONLY witness. I DO NOT wish to testify. DO I have too?

Asked about 4 years ago - Niceville, FL

I have been called by the prosecution to testify in a case in which I am the ONLY witness. The prosecution has Threatened me that if I do not testify, they will throw ME in jail. Firstly, I need to know if they can force me to testify under duress of the threat of jail. Secondly, I need to know how likely, ( if possible, ) it is for the prosecution to actually take actions against me. I have made no statements to the police in this matter thus far. This case was brought about by a third-party hear-say call to the police about an alleged domestic violence incident. I am the only eye-witness in the incident besides the accused.. and the prosecutions case obviously greatly depends on me... so ALL I need to know is; Do I HAVE TO show up in court to testify? If so, WHY?

Attorney answers (4)

  1. John Davis Hoffman

    Contributor Level 13

    Answered . If you were served with a subpoena you are required to appear in court and testify.

  2. Guy Scott DiMartino

    Contributor Level 13

    Answered . Yes. You must appeal if you are subpoenaed to court.

  3. Steven Alan Fink

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . You do because there is a court-ordered subpoena requiring you to attend. If you do not show up you can be charged with contempt of court, jailed and fined.

    Another reason to show up is that if you do not testify or do not testify truthfully, he will beat you or someone else. That is the known pattern. Protect yourself and others by testifying.

    The response given is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be anything other than the educated opinion of the author. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might possibly change. Attorney is licensed to practice law only in the State of California. Responses are based solely on California law unless stated otherwise.

  4. Peter J Tomao

    Contributor Level 14

    Answered . You have to show up. Subpoena literally means "under penalty." It is a means used to force a witness to testify. Very few non-party witnesses, like you, want to testify. The subpoena means that they, and you, have to appear. One of the other attorneys suggested that you may be the victim of abuse or afraid that you will become a victim of abuse by the defendant. If this is so, you should speak with the prosecutor. Most prosecutors’ offices have a person assigned to help victims and witnesses. If all else fails, when you show up you or your attorney can ask the judge for additional protection. Under some circumstances, you may have the right to refuse to testify under your rights against self-incrimination. In that case, the prosecutor may have to take the additional step of immunizing you. This a question on which you need legal advice which we can not provide here.. Good luck.
    THESE COMMENTS ARE NOT LEGAL ADVICE. They are provided for informational purposes only. Actual legal advice can only be provided after consultation by an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction. Answering this question does not create an attorney-client relationship or otherwise require further consultation.

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