Is appearance in court as a witness mandatory if you receive a notice of trial?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Is appearance in court as a witness mandatory if you receive a notice of trial?

I had previously received case notification letters that stated “Your appearance in court is optional unless you receive a Notice of Trial or a subpoena”. I’ve now received a notice of trial asking me to register as a witness but have not done so yet. Nothing in the letter indicates that I will be punished for failure to appear and I’m not entirely sure what the difference is between a notice of trial and a subpoena. It’s a domestic battery case involving family friends (occurred at my residence) and I don’t particularly want to be involved any further, but I don’t want to face any legal problems by not showing up either.

Asked on January 13, 2016 under Criminal Law, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

A notice of trial obligates someone who is a party to a case to appear. A subpoena is used to obligate a non-party, such as many witnesses, to appear. If you are not a party to the case and were not subpoenaed, you should not have to appear. If you are a party (someone named in the case), you would have to show. Check the document to make sure it's not actually a subpoena: a subpoena will inform you that if you do not appear, you will be subject to punishment. If it is a subpoena, you will need to testify.

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