Do I have to appear and testify in a court case if I have been subpoenaed?

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Do I have to appear and testify in a court case if I have been subpoenaed?

I witnessed an accident over a year ago; I cannot recall the details now. The lawyer for one of the parties has subpoenaed me to testify in the civil case. I live 5 hours away, am a full-time college student and work 2 jobs. Since i cannot recall the details and cannot afford to leave, can i just ignore the subpoena?

Asked on February 6, 2018 under Accident Law, Washington

Answers:

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

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, you cannot. A subpeona is an order of the court to appear. If you ignore it, you can be held in contempt which could result in a fine and possibly even jailtime (although the latter typically does not occur). At this point, you either have to go to court and testify or be relaesed if the attoreny who had you subpeonoeaed will let you off the hook. You can contact the presiding judge and advise them of your situation. Additionally, you may call the attorney for the party who issued the subpoena and, depending on the reason for your absence, they may require you be depososed instead.


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