How can I avoid testifying in a domestic violence case?

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How can I avoid testifying in a domestic violence case?

The father of my children in currently in jail and will be until trial in May for domestic aggravated assault. I’ve told my victims advocate that I’m not willing to testify. She said that they will draw up a new plea deal for him. That didn’t happen and trial is still set. I do not want to protect the defendant but I absolutely can not testify against him. If a warrant is issued and I’m arrested, can I bond out right away? What are the consequences of refusing to answer questions? How can I get out of going to trial without doing jail time? What will happen with my children if I get myself into trouble?

Asked on March 24, 2019 under Criminal Law, South Dakota

Answers:

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

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

A subpoena is a direct order from a court. it requiring that you to appear before it and submit to questioning. If you ignore it you can be held in contempt and a warrant can be issued for your arrest. You can also face fines and/or lail time. Some victims try to refuse to testify by invoking their Fifth Amendment rights (i.e. the right against self-incrimination). However, this right doesn't apply merely because a witness does not want to testify. Furthermore, in domestic violence cases, many spouse's think that they can invoke "spousal privilege", which is the right of one spouse not to have to give testimony against the other spouse. However, most states have amended their spousal privilege statutes to make exceptions for DV victims since many are intimidated by their abuser not to testify. Consequently, one spouse can be made to testify against the other in these cases. At this point, you may want to consult with an attorney who can best advise you further in this matter.

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

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

A subpoena is a direct order from a court. it requiring that you to appear before it and submit to questioning. If you ignore it you can be held in contempt and a warrant can be issued for your arrest. You can also face fines and/or lail time. Some victims try to refuse to testify by invoking their Fifth Amendment rights (i.e. the right against self-incrimination). However, this right doesn't apply merely because a witness does not want to testify. Furthermore, in domestic violence cases, many spouse's think that they can invoke "spousal privilege", which is the right of one spouse not to have to give testimony against the other spouse. However, most states have amended their spousal privilege statutes to make exceptions for DV victims since many are intimidated by their abuser not to testify. Consequently, one spouse can be made to testify against the other in these cases. At this point, you may want to consult with an attorney who can best advise you further in this matter.


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