What happens if I don’t testify against my husband in a domestic violence case

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What happens if I don’t testify against my husband in a domestic violence case

The state picked up assuredly four
charges on my husband and I don’t
want to testify.I am the victim and
have been subpoena by the

Asked on March 22, 2016 under Criminal Law, Kentucky


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

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

A subpoena is a direct order from a court requiring you to appear. If you ignore it, you can be held in contempt and a warrant for failure to appear can be issued for your arrest. Additionally, you can also face fines and/or incarceration.
Some victims try to refuse to testify by invoking their Fifth Amendment rights (i.e. the right against self-incrimination). However, this right doesn't apply merely because a witness does not want to testify. Also, this right applies only if their testimony would cause them to incriminate themselves in either the crime in question or another crime. As with a witness who fails to show up to court, a witness who refuses to testify can also be held in contempt and fined and/or jailed.
Furthermore, in domestic violence cases, many spouse's think that they can invoke "spousal privilege". This is the right of one spouse not to have to give testimony against the other spouse. However, most states have amended their spousal privilege statutes to make an exception for DV victims since many are intimidated by their abuser not to testify. Therefore, in these cases, one spouse can be made to testify against the other.

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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