What happens if you ignore a subpoena?

UPDATED: Jun 11, 2011

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What happens if you ignore a subpoena?

I have been subpoenaed in a trial as a witnesses and I really don’t want to go. If I don’t show up is it criminal contempt or civil contempt?

Asked on June 11, 2011 under Criminal Law, Florida


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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

A subpoena is a direct order from the court to appear at a certain date and time. If you fail to appear when requested, a bench warrant for your arrest may be issued for contempt of court.  Accordingly, you could be jailed or fined.

Note: A witness can "plead the 5th" (i.e. invoke their “privilege against self-incrimination”) but only  if their testimony would implicate them in some way in the crime.  So unless your testimony can get you personally in trouble, you have to testify. 

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