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Question for criminal defense attorneys

Newport Beach, CA |

I am the owner of a store that was the recepient of a NSF check, or a bad check, however you want to put it. Anyway, two detectives came into my store and asked if I would cooperate with the investigation and file a report and appear in court to testify at the preliminary hearing. I said I did not want to prosecute or have anything to do with the case. Can they legally force me to cooperate?

Attorney Answers 5


  1. They can subpoena you to appear as a witness. Why not just cooperate?

    I am an Attorney-at-Law, licensed to practice law only in the state of California. Unless we have both signed a formal retainer agreement, you are not my client, and my discussion of issues does not constitute legal advice. Opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of those who hold other opinions.


  2. Yes. They can subpoena you to appear in court. That is a court order requiring your appearance. Once in court, the judge can order you to testify. Unless some privilege applies (like self-incrimination), you don't have any right to not obey a lawful court order to testify.

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  3. Yes, they can subpoena you and you must attend the court. Unless there are other reasons, such as incriminating yourself on stand, you need to testify. In such a case, then you need to have an attorney.


  4. Yes, they may compel your appearance if the prosecutor's office files a subpoena. If a judge orders you to answer a question while you are under oath, you must answer honestly. Unless a privilege applies allowing you to refuse to answer a question, you have to answer the questions. But if you don't want to negatively impact the defendant's life for the alleged crime, you can always offer to testify on the defendant's behalf at the sentencing hearing as well, supposing that the prosecutor does move forward with serving you with a subpoena.

    No legal advice is given here. My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must NOT be relied upon as if they were legal advice. I give legal advice ONLY in the course of a formal attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions & Answers forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by joint execution of a written agreement for legal services. I am only licensed in the State of Washington, pending formal admission to the State of California.


  5. If you are properly served with a subpoena, it is a court order that requires you to come to court. Having said that, in 22 years of practice in North Carolina I have never seen a prosecutor ask for, or a judge issue, a show cause order for failing to appear on a simple worthless check.

    The information provided in this response is offered as a public service. It does not create an attorney/client relationship. The answer reflects the authors opinion, based on his experience, without having conducted research on your specific issue. Please be advised that laws and court practice vary by state, jurisdictions, and court personnel. Answers given here are generalities and may not apply to your specific case. No warranties of opinion are expressed or implied. If your legal issue is in Charlotte, NC, I offer free telephone consultations.