One of the first questions we often get asked as a victims rights attorney firm is whether or not the victim will be required to testify in court. This is a complicated question that does not have a simple answer. Keep reading to get the general facts or contact Justice 4 Crime Victims at 949-585-9055 to request a free consultation on your specific case.
Crime Victims Can Sometimes Be Forced to Testify
Whether they want to or not, crime victims and witnesses may be forced to testify in court. A subpoena can be issued by the prosecutor or defense counsel to compel the witness to testify in court. If the judge is concerned that the witness will not appear in court as scheduled, the judge can impose a bail or even remand the witness in custody to guarantee cooperation.
Some victims would rather forget about the incident than face questioning and examination on the witness stand. Other victims may face difficulty and financial hardship as a result of testifying. For victims of particular types of crimes, such as rape and incest, testifying can be exceptionally painful. Victims of gang-related crimes are often afraid to testify for fear of being punished for “snitching.”
Despite these real-world complexities, the fact is that a witness can be forced to assist in some circumstances, whether or not that person wants to.
The law allows you to “force” a key witness to appear in court and testify. A subpoena can be issued by the prosecutor (or defense counsel) to compel a witness to testify in court about a specific topic. If the witness refuses to comply with the subpoena, the judge may issue a warrant for his or her arrest. If the judge is concerned that a “material witness” (one who has important evidence in the case) would fail to attend as scheduled, the witness might be required to post a bond to ensure his or her return to court.
Certain Victims Cannot Be Forced to Testify
If a witness refuses to testify, he or she may be put in contempt and imprisoned. However, victims of sexual assault or domestic abuse cannot be imprisoned for declining to testify, according to the law (although such victims can be fined). When a juvenile under the age of 16 refuses to testify, the court must confer with the probation department to determine the best course of action.
We Are On Your Side – Call Now to Learn How We Can Help
Deciding whether or not to testify against someone who has committed a crime against you should be your own decision. To get the legal help you need to move forward in the way that is best for you, contact Justice 4 Crime Victims at 949-585-9055 for a free victims rights consultation.