What can I do if the police came to my home and my husband was arrested for domestic violence, felonius assault and assault by strangulation but I don’t want to testify against him?

I made a statement but it wasn’t entered into the court record and I did not press charges. I tried to refuse to testify against him but the prosecutor threatened to put me in jail if I didn’t accept the subpoena. He’s facing 2-10 years.

Asked on October 26, 2015 under Criminal Law, Michigan

Answers:

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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

A subpoena is an order from the court requiring your appearance; you cannot just ignore it. As you are aware, if you do, you can be held in contempt of court and a warrant can be issued for your arrest. You can also face fines and/or jail time.
Some victims attempt to refuse to testify by invoking their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. However, this right doesn't apply simply because a witness doesn't want to testify; it only applies if their own testimony would cause them to incriminate themselves in this or another crime. Also, a witness who refuses to testify can be held in contempt and jailed and/or fined. (the same as if they had ignored a subpeona).
Further, in DV cases, many spouse's try to invoke "spousal privilege". This  is the right of one spouse not to have to give testimony against the otherspouse. However, most states have amended their spousal privilege statute to carve out an exception for victims of domestiv violence. Consequently, one spouse can be made to testify against the other.
At this point, you can consult directly with a localcriminal law attorney as to your rights and legal obligations in this matter.


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