If I have been subpoenaed to court in a criminal case, do I have to go if I don’t want to testify?

Asked on July 18, 2015 under Criminal Law, North Carolina


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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Yes you do. A subpoena is a direct order from the court for you to appear at the place and time specified. If you don't go, you can be held in contempt. A warrant for failure to appear can then be issued for your arrest; you will face fines and/or jail time.

Depending on your situation, you could possibly "plead the 5th", that is invoke your right against self-incrimination. However the protection afforded by this right can't be enforced simply because you do not want to testify; it only applies if your testimony would cause you to incriminate yourself in the crime.

If you have further questions, you should consult directly with a local criminal law attorney.

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