Can I refuse to testify in general sessions court?

My husband was arrested for aggaravated domestic
assault, but I denied to press charges. I have been
subpoenaed to testify against him, but I didnt press
charges. The state did. How do I handle that when I
get to court?

Asked on January 15, 2019 under Criminal Law, Tennessee

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

First of all, a subpoena is a direct court order that requires you to appear. If you ignore it, you can be held in contempt pf court and a warrant for failure to appear can be issued for your arrest. Also, you can also face fines and/or jail time. Some victims attempt to  invoke their Fifth Amendment rights (i.e. the right against self-incrimination) in order to not testify. However, this right doesn't apply simply because a witness doesn't want to testify. This right only applies if their testimony would cause them to incriminate themselves in either the crime in question or another crime. Further, as with a witness who fails to show up to court, a witness who refuses to testify can also be held in contempt and fined and incarcerated. Furthermore, in domestic violence cases, many spouse's think that they can invoke "spousal privilege". This is the right of one spouse to refuse to give testimony against the other spouse. However, in DV cases most states have amended their spousal privilege statutes to make an exception since victims many times are intimidated by their abuser not to testify. Accordingly, in these cases, one spouse can be made to testify against the other. Bottom line, when you get to court, tell the truth since lying under oath is a crime.

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

First of all, a subpoena is a direct court order that requires you to appear. If you ignore it, you can be held in contempt pf court and a warrant for failure to appear can be issued for your arrest. Also, you can also face fines and/or jail time. Some victims attempt to  invoke their Fifth Amendment rights (i.e. the right against self-incrimination) in order to not testify. However, this right doesn't apply simply because a witness doesn't want to testify. This right only applies if their testimony would cause them to incriminate themselves in either the crime in question or another crime. Further, as with a witness who fails to show up to court, a witness who refuses to testify can also be held in contempt and fined and incarcerated. Furthermore, in domestic violence cases, many spouse's think that they can invoke "spousal privilege". This is the right of one spouse to refuse to give testimony against the other spouse. However, in DV cases most states have amended their spousal privilege statutes to make an exception since victims many times are intimidated by their abuser not to testify. Accordingly, in these cases, one spouse can be made to testify against the other. Bottom line, when you get to court, tell the truth since lying under oath is a crime.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.