What are my rights to not testify if I am a witness?

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What are my rights to not testify if I am a witness?

I am a minor. I was required by my school to make a statement as a witness to a bullying crime. The situation got out of hand and I may have to testify in court. My mother was told that I as well as my witness statement may be subpoenaed and I may have to go to court. As a witness, is there anyway I can protect my rights and not have to testify? Is there any “fifth amendment” for a witness?

Asked on May 24, 2012 under Criminal Law, Florida

Answers:

Kevin Bessant / Law Office of Kevin Bessant & Associates

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The right to plead the Fifth Amendment as a testifying witness exists to protect oneself from self-incrimination of a criminal act. Thus, in this particular case of bullying, if you believe that a question asked to you by an attorney or school administrator may implicate you in the crime itself, meaning your answer could make you culpable for the crime, then you can choose to plead the Fifth Amendment to the question asked and refuse to answer the question. If subpoenaed or ordered to testify, there is no way to avoid testifying if you are mentally and physically able to do so, but if the questions asked to you may cause you to implicate yourself in a crime, then you can indeed plead the Fifth Amendment to protect yourself.


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