As a “victim” are you legally required to give a statement to the police or can you refuse?

UPDATED: May 5, 2011

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As a “victim” are you legally required to give a statement to the police or can you refuse?

My brother and I got into an argument and he tried to knock something out of my hands, but accidentally hit my leg. He was upset and starting throwing things around his room. I called the police because I was concerned he would hurt himself. The police arrested him for “domestic violence” even though I was not hurt and in no danger. I voiced this but was ignored. Now they want me to write a statement, but I feel like they will try to incriminate him no matter what I say. Am I legally required to give a statement? Is it better to say nothing or should I attempt to explain what happened?

Asked on May 5, 2011 under Criminal Law, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You may choose to not give a statement, at least up to the point where the authorities get a subpoena to make you testify or put you up on a witness stand. At that point--if it gets to that point--the only grounds you have for not testifying or giving a statement would be that it would incriminate *you* in some way (this is your 5th-amendment right against self incrimination). Otherwise, if they authorities use some legal process or procedure (like a subpoena), you'd have to testify. As to whether it would be better or worse to attempt to explain, you should discuss this matter with a criminal defense attorney with whom you could share all the fact and circumstances in detail.

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 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.

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