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

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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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


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

Answered 4 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.

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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