As a domestic violence victim, do I have to go to court and testify? If so, could I plead the fifth? - Criminal Law Questions and Answers- LawQA.com

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As a domestic violence victim, do I have to go to court and testify? If so, could I plead the fifth?

I am going to drop charges but the state will pick them up. I don't want to go forward with anything reason being that we were back together in less than a week. Will I go to jail for perjury?

Answer By Roy L. Reeves
Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
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You have to go to court IF you are served with a subpoena. You may plead the fifth (I am assuming that you do not want to recant and risk being charged with "false report" but you don't want to testify either). DO NOT sign the Affidavit of Non-Prosecution provided by the DA's office, it is written (at least the ones I have seen) in such a way to bottle you in. Words like "although the events occurred 'exactly' as reported, I do not wish to proceed or prosecute".

Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 10/17/2012

Answer By Steve Freeborn
Freeborn Law Offices, P.S.
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Yes you will be required to go to court to testify. If you refuse to go, a material witness warrant could be issued whereby the police can come and get you to bring you to court to testify. If you refuse to testify, it could possibly result in the dismissal of the charges, but it may not. If you gave any kind of statement to the officer at the time your "friend" was arrested, that can be used in court. I suspect that the prosecutor has additional evidence beyond your testimony. If you get on the stand and lie, yes, you could be charged with perjury. I do not know the facts of your case and how serious the altercation was between you and your boyfriend. Understand, if he hit you once, he will hit you again. You can bet on that. A condition for you going back with him is that he and you go to counseling. If he refuses, then you are a fool to go back with him. I hope there are no children as they will be the truly innocent victims since they have no choices. They are forced to suffer the consequences of your selfishness.

Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 10/17/2012

Michael Breczinski
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You will go to jail for perjury only if you lie on the stand.? Taking the fifth does not subject you to perjury If you are subpoenaed you have to appear in court or go to jail.

Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 10/17/2012

Answer By John J. Carney
The Law Offices of John J. Carney Esq.
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You do not have the power to "drop the charges" and if you do not show up for court they can arrest you and make you testify. They may not bother , but it is hard to say how much they want your testimony. If you lie you can be charged with perjury or filing a false complaint. You should let his lawyer handle the case and have him get counseling if he hurt you.

Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 10/17/2012

Answer By Dennis P. Mikko

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The decision to bring and/or continue criminal charges is solely within the discretion of the prosecutor and not the victim. The prosecutor can subpoena the victim to testify at trial. The victim would have to testify truthfully or face possible perjury charges which are a felony. In order to take advantage of your 5th Amendment right against self incrimination, your testimony would have to implicate you in criminal activity. You cannot use the 5th Amendment just because the testimony you are asked to give is unconfortable for you.

Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 10/16/2012

Answer By Mary W Craig

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As a victim and testifying witness, you do not have the right to plead the Fifth Amendment. However, if you swore out a false report, then you have Fifth Amendment rights not to testify against yourself. You may well need to remain silent if you lied about the incident.

Answer Applies to: Alabama
Replied: 10/16/2012

Answer By Gregory Casale
Gregory Casale Attorney at Law
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You are right to question this strategy. The 5th Amendment is about self-incrimination. It comes into play when you have culpability in the matter and where your truthful testimony could cause you to be charged. You do not want to lie or recant your story as both could be legal violations that could cause you to be charged for either perjury or filing a false police report. You don't want to trade places with the current defendant. Your bf/husband/partner should have an attorney representing him. That lawyer should be able to advise you on how to best assist him without hurting yourself.

Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
Replied: 10/16/2012

Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law
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You will likely be subpoenaed to come to court. If you tried to invoke your fifth amendment right against self-incrimination, the prosecutor would likely grant you immunity which would eliminate your ability to refuse to testify. The prosecution can force you to testify but it cannot control what you say once you take the stand.

Answer Applies to: Minnesota
Replied: 10/16/2012

Answer By Jeff Yeh
Law Office of Jeff Yeh
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1) No you cannot take the 5th, which can only be exercised to avoid saying something that can implicate you criminally. If you simply don't want to go forward, that is not good cause to take the 5th. 2) Yes you can go to jail for perjury, which is a crime. 3) You being back together happens all the time. Prosecutors are trained to deal with and cross-examine victims who have reconciled with the defendant. Getting back together will do absolutely nothing to stop the prosecution.

Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 10/16/2012

Answer By Jason Savela
Connell-Savela
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contact the defendants attorney - they can help telling the DA or the police will just result in them trying to convince you otherwise and possibly a worse outcome for you if the protection order was not removed by the court, then defendant is not allowed to have any contact with you - if the DA or police find out there has been contact, then defendant will go to jail and get new charges if the DA mails the subpoena to you, rather than personally serving you, then you do not have to go to court (unless you signed it and sent it back) if you did anything to cause the DV, you might need to assert the fifth - why, bc by telling the truth, you would be admitting to committing a crime (not perjury, but maybe harassment or assault) I have represented many victims of DV, helping them get the outcome they want. There are ways, but it does not involve asking the DA or just to drop the charges. That does not work.

Answer Applies to: Colorado
Replied: 10/16/2012

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