If I was subpoenaed to testify against my husband in a domestic charge, do I have to testify?

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If I was subpoenaed to testify against my husband in a domestic charge, do I have to testify?

Asked on November 7, 2015 under Criminal Law, Tennessee

Answers:

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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you do. A subpoena is a court requiring your appearance. If you ignore it, you can be held in contempt of court and a warrant can be issued for your arrest. You can also face fines and/or jail time.
Some victims try to avoid giving testimony by attempting to invoke their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. However, this right doesn't apply simply because a witness doesn't want to testify; it only applies if their testimony would cause them to incriminate themself. 
Further, in cases of domestic violence, many spouse's try to invoke "spousal privilege". This  is the right of one spouse to not have to give testimony against the other spouse. However, most states have amended their statutues to carve out an exception for victims of DV, therefore one spouse can be made to testify against the other.
At this point, you can consult directly with a criminal law attorney in your area as to your rights in this matter.


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