If I received a subpoena to be a witness in a case, what happens if I don’t show up in court?

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If I received a subpoena to be a witness in a case, what happens if I don’t show up in court?

Will I be punished? My position in this case is very small. I know both plantiff and defendant in this case but I have very limited information on them. The lawyer and investigator is trying to have me defend her client but I informed them I know very little. I was put on telephone “standby” for this trial. I do not wish to be part of this trial because I don’t know anything and because there is a “conflict of interest” since I know both sides.

Asked on April 11, 2014 under Criminal Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

If you are subpoened and do not appear, you may be found to be in contempt of court and could be subject to punishment, including potentially imprisonment. Feeling that you have a conflict of interest is no grounds to avoid appearing and testifying; nor is the fact that you allegedly do not know much--that merely means that your testimony may not be very useful.


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