If I received a subpoena but don’t want to go to court, what can I do?

I received a subpoena at my mother’s house to testify against my husband on domestic assault and battery charge that the state picked up I do not want to go. Do I have any other options?

Asked on November 26, 2018 under Criminal Law, Oklahoma

Answers:

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

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

A subpoena is a direct court order for your appearance at the place and time specified. If the subpoena was validly served and you ignore it, you can be held in contempt. Accordingly a warrant for FTA (failure to appear) can be issued for your arrest and you can face fines and/or jail. Further, some domestic violence victims try to refuse to testify by invoking the Fifth Amendment (i.e. the right against self-incrimination). However, this right can't be invoked simply because they do not want to testify; it only applies if their testimony would cause them to incriminate themselves in some way. Additionally, a witness who refuses to testify can also be held in contempt of court and arrested and jailed/fined. Finally, some spouse's think that they can invoke "spousal privilege" (i.e. the right of one spouse not to have to give testimony against the other spouse). However, most states have amended their spousal privilege statute so that in a DV case, a spouse can testify against the other. Bottom line, you must appear in court and you must testify if called to the stand.

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

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

A subpoena is a direct court order for your appearance at the place and time specified. If the subpoena was validly served and you ignore it, you can be held in contempt. Accordingly a warrant for FTA (failure to appear) can be issued for your arrest and you can face fines and/or jail. Further, some domestic violence victims try to refuse to testify by invoking the Fifth Amendment (i.e. the right against self-incrimination). However, this right can't be invoked simply because they do not want to testify; it only applies if their testimony would cause them to incriminate themselves in some way. Additionally, a witness who refuses to testify can also be held in contempt of court and arrested and jailed/fined. Finally, some spouse's think that they can invoke "spousal privilege" (i.e. the right of one spouse not to have to give testimony against the other spouse). However, most states have amended their spousal privilege statute so that in a DV case, a spouse can testify against the other. Bottom line, you must appear in court and you must testify if called to the stand.


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