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

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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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 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.


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