What are the consequences for not showing up for a subpoena or refusing to testify as a defendant in a civil case?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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What are the consequences for not showing up for a subpoena or refusing to testify as a defendant in a civil case?

I got subpoenaed for a lawsuit against my boss on both sides of the case. If I testify against my boss

and my boss loses his case, I’m sure it’ll make my work situation extremely rough to say the least. I’m sure

by law he can’t fire me directly because of the testimony, however there are other ways around that I’m

sure. So how long would I go to jail for if I refuse to testify?

Asked on February 15, 2019 under Business Law, Colorado


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

1) Actually, you are wrong: your employer may terminate you for testifying. Employment is employment at will: unless you have an employment contract guarantying your employment, your employer may terminate you for essentially any reason not barred by law, including testifying in a civil case against them (there is no legal protection for testifying against your employer in a private lawsuit).
2) If you vioalte the subpoena, you can be held in contempt of court. Contempt of court is discretionary on the part of the judge--there is no way to say what he or she would give you. It can be a fine of tens or hundreds of dollars per day until you testify; it could be jail for a day or twom, or until you testify (subject to some reasonable maximum of usually several weeks).

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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