If I have been subpoenaed for the state as a witness for a kidnapping case but I don’t want to testify, what can I do?

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If I have been subpoenaed for the state as a witness for a kidnapping case but I don’t want to testify, what can I do?

Asked on July 14, 2015 under Criminal Law, West Virginia

Answers:

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

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

There really may not be much that you can do. The fact is that a subpoena is an order from the court for you to appear at the place and time specified. If you ignore it you can be held in contempt. Accordingly, a warrant for failure to appear) can be issued for your arrest at which point you will face fines and/or jail time.

Depending on the circumstances, you could try to "plead the 5th" (i.e. the right against self-incrimination). However this right can't be invoked simply because you do not want to testify; it only applies if your testimony would cause you to somehow incriminate in the crime. And a witness who refuses to testify can also be held in contempt of court and arrested and jailed/fined.

If you have further concerns, you should consult directly with a criminal law attorney.


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