If I am a witness for a court case in which someone threatened to burn my house down but I didn’t issue the charge, the deputy did, do I have to appear in court.

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If I am a witness for a court case in which someone threatened to burn my house down but I didn’t issue the charge, the deputy did, do I have to appear in court.

As above went to prelimary court now going to grand jury, but I didn’t ask to
make the charge?

Asked on August 18, 2017 under Criminal Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If you are subpoenaed, you have to appear. You have to bear in mind that the victim of a crime is NOT in charge of the prosecution: this is not like a civil case (lawsuit), where the person wronged (e.g. the one whose car was hit, or who had a contract violated) makes the decision whether or not to sue and controls the lawsuit. Rather the "state"--the government; i.e. the prosecutor's office--decides whether to bring charges and controls the case. The victim is just a witness: an important witness, but still just a witness. You don't need to voluntarily appear, but if you receive a subpoena (a legal document compelling your appearance) you must; any witness who receives a subpoena must appear and testify.


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