What are my rights if I’ve been subpoenaed to testify in a murderer investigation that a friend was involved in?

UPDATED: Sep 29, 2022

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What are my rights if I’ve been subpoenaed to testify in a murderer investigation that a friend was involved in?

I’ve already spoken to the police and told them what I know. Now they want a witness statement. I really don’t want to say too much and be the nail in this friend’s coffin.

Asked on October 19, 2015 under Criminal Law, Florida


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

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

A subpoena is a court order which compels the person served to comply with whatever is requested in the subpoena. If a person is to appear and testify in court, then they are legally obligated to do so. Failure to so comply is a criminal matter and can result in a contempt of court charges for which there are penalties including fines and jail time.   
That having been said, if a witness feels that their testimony might implicate them in the matter in which they are testifying or in another matter, they may be afforded protection under the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution. This give individuals the right to refuse to answer any questions that would result in establishing that the person committed a crime. This right is known as the "privilege against self-incrimination". A witness may still be forced to take the stand but once they invoke their right to "plead the Fifth," they cannot be forced to testigy. That is, a witness may not be forced to answer any incriminating question

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