Do I have to talk in court if I have been subpoenaed but I don’t want to go ?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Do I have to talk in court if I have been subpoenaed but I don’t want to go ?

I’m being called a victim of domestic violence but I didn’t press charges and didn’t want too because that’s not what happened.

Asked on September 20, 2016 under Criminal Law, Tennessee


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

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

A subpoena is a direct order of the court for a person's appearance at the place and time specified. If it is validly served but the person upon whom it is served ignores it, thar person can be held in contempt. Which means at that point, a warrant for failure to appear can be issued for their arrest. They can then face fines, jail or both. While some victims refuse to testify by "pleading the 5th" (i.e. the right against self-incrimination), they are unsuccessful. The reason is because this right can't be invoked jmerely because the witness does not want to testify; it only applies if their testimony would cause them to incriminate themselves in this incident or any other crime. Further, a witness who refuses to testify can also be held in contempt of court, arrested and fined/jailed. Additionally, in domestic violence cases, if there is enough other evidence, the alleged victim's cooperation is not needed and the case will still go forward. Bottom line, you must appear in court and testify if called upon to do so. 

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 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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