If I was involved in a domestic dispute, must I allow my 4 year old to be a witness?

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If I was involved in a domestic dispute, must I allow my 4 year old to be a witness?

I didn’t press charges, however the state did. I don’t remember the incident but they have my 4 year old child under subpeona. They questioned her without my permission or presence and if I dont take her to court to testify, I will go to jail. I’m uncomfortable with my child doing such a thing; She’s too young.

Asked on January 8, 2016 under Criminal Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, it appears  your child is a witness to an offense.  The state can subpoena and attempt to use her as a witness.  However, before she can testify, the court will have to decide whether or not she is capable of testifying due to her age and maturity.  The decision will ultimately be in the hands of the judge.  Sometimes, a judge will let a victim/parent or attorney for victim/parent make arguments for or against a child testifying.  To know if the judge in your jurisidiction will permit this type of plea, visit with a criminal defense attorney in your jurisdiction.   More and more are offering free consultations.  It's worth the time the get a better pulse of what the judge will let you do to protect your daughter from the negative effects of testifying at trial.


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