If my ex boyfriend is in jail and I got subpoenaed to go to court and testify as a witness, can I plead the 5th?

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If my ex boyfriend is in jail and I got subpoenaed to go to court and testify as a witness, can I plead the 5th?

Since it’s criminal court, can the judge give me a fine for doing so?

Asked on February 6, 2017 under Criminal Law, California

Answers:

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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

First of all, a subpoena is a direct order by the court for you to appear at the time and place specified. If you don't go, you can be held in contempt of court and a warrant for your arrest can be issued, at which point you will face fines and/or jail time. As for "pleading the 5th", that is  invoking your right against self-incrimination, this protection can't be enforced just because you don't want to testify; it applies only if your testimony would cause you to incriminate yourself in the crime in question (or another crime).


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