If Iwas subpoenaed to go to court and don’t go, willI get arrested?

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If Iwas subpoenaed to go to court and don’t go, willI get arrested?

One day my husband and I were having a disagreement which got loud. A neighbor called the police. I do not know what the neighbor told the police but my husband was picked up by an officer at the end of that week. The officer said that he had a warrant for arrest on my husband. He husband was charged with assault on a female with deadly weapon with intention to kill. However my husband and I were not fighting. I was 7 months pregnant at the time.

Asked on July 4, 2011 under Criminal Law, North Carolina

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

A subpoena is a direct order from the court for your appearance at the place and time specified.  If a subpoena is validly served and you ignore it you can he held in contempt. Accordingly a warrant for FTA (failure to appear) can be issued for your arrest and you can face fines and/or jail.

Some victims try to refuse to testify by invoking the Fifth Amendment (i.e. the right against self-incrimination). However this right can't be invoked simply because the witness does not want to testify; it only applies if their testimony would cause them to incriminate themselves. A witness who refuses to testify can also be held in contempt of court and arrested and jailed/fined

Additionally in domestic violence cases, some spouse's think that they can invoke "spousal privilege" (the right of one spouse not to have to give testimony against the other spouse). However, the vast majority of states have amended their spousal privilege statute to carve out an exception for domestic violence victims.

Bottom line - you must appear in court and  you must testify if called upon to do so.


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