As a domestic violence victim, do I have to go to court and testify? If so, could I plead the fifth? 21 Answers as of October 18, 2012

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?

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Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
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: 10/18/2012
Freeborn Law Offices, P.S.
Freeborn Law Offices, P.S. | Steve Freeborn
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: 10/18/2012
Michael Breczinski
Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
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: 10/18/2012
The Law Offices of John J. Carney Esq.
The Law Offices of John J. Carney Esq. | John J. Carney
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: 10/18/2012
Dennis P. Mikko Attorney at Law | Dennis P. Mikko
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: 10/18/2012
    Mary W Craig P.C. | Mary W Craig
    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
    Gregory Casale Attorney at Law
    Gregory Casale Attorney at Law | Gregory Casale
    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
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law | Charles M. Schiff
    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
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    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
    Connell-Savela
    Connell-Savela | Jason Savela
    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
    Law Office of Mark Bruce
    Law Office of Mark Bruce | Mark Corwin Bruce
    If you are subpoenaed by the DA you are ordered by the court to show up to court. If you are put on the stand, the only way you can legally take the fifth is if your testimony will somehow incriminate you. If you filed a false report,, your testimony could incriminate you, so the fifth is available. What will happen then, though, is that the DA will be able to call the cop who took your statement because you are "unavailable." The best course of action is to call the DA and tell them you do not want anything to happen to your mate. Chances are, a disposition can be worked out where he does not have to go to jail.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/16/2012
    Attorney at Law | Michael P. Vollandt
    Yes have to go to court if you are under subpoena. Also, you can invoke your 5th Amendments rights if you want to. The defense attorney knows what you can and can not do so get in his ear.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/16/2012
    Gates' Law, PLLC | Thomas E. Gates
    You could be punished for perjury. Depending upon the evidence from the incident, the prosecutor may already have enough to convict the defendant. Thus, you cooperation may not matter.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 10/16/2012
    Lawrence Lewis
    Lawrence Lewis | Lawrence Lewis, PC
    If you are handed a subpoena, you must appear in court. If when you go to court, you want to plead the fifth, you can do that. If the prosecutor files a grant of immunity, you lose your fifth amendment privilege, and must testify, or go to jail for contempt. The state already has teh charges. The state had the charges when you phoned the police, and the police arrested him. You cannot go to jail for perjury unless you were sworn to tell the truth and lied uder oath. However, you may be arrested for false police report, If what you told the police was not the truth. I suspect that your man needs an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 10/16/2012
    Pingelton Law Firm | Dan Pingelton
    You can refuse to testify. You cannot be charged with perjury for refusing to testify. The State has an interest in protecting victims of domestic violence, such as yourself. I urge you to seek counseling to address the DV, and your reaction to it. You should NOT put up with such abusive behavior. Honestly, I'd cooperate with the State. Your significant other cannot be allowed to continue this kind of conduct. A plea agreement can be reached that will protect you in the future, and address his inappropriate behavior. If he doesn't like that tough. He needs to learn that DV is not acceptable under any circumstances. If he cannot, they you should leave him.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 10/16/2012
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    If subpoenaed you must testify and testify truthfully. You are a witness and a victim. As such you do not have the authority to drop charges. If you are with your abuser, he could be arrested. If he assaults you, it will be a felony.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 10/16/2012
    Miller & Harrison, LLC
    Miller & Harrison, LLC | David Harrison
    As a victim you likely will have to testify against the defendant for the case to go forward at trial. If what you say may incriminate you in criminal activity then you may be able to take the 5th and refuse to testify. However, the judge could allow the prosecutor to grant you immunity from prosecution from anything you say when testifying and you may have to testify anyway. It would be best to hire a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 10/16/2012
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly | Brendan M. Kelly
    You can take the fifth and you don't have to testify.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 10/16/2012
    R. Jason de Groot, P.A
    R. Jason de Groot, P.A | R. Jason de Groot
    You must go to court and testify, if you do not, he can still be convicted, the opposite of what you want, and you can be jailed for contempt too. The state attorney may not wish to prosecute if their main witness wants to drop the case, but that is up to the state attorney, not you. Stay in touch with the victim advocate and let your feeling be well known.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 10/16/2012
    Fagan, Fagan & Davis
    Fagan, Fagan & Davis | Steven H. Fagan
    Perjury would only result from giving false testimony under oath. As to whether you have to go to court to testify, that's something you should discuss with an attorney. There are many questions an attorney can consider - Is there a subpoena? Was the subpoena properly served? Is it possible to discuss the situation with the prosecutor? In short, you should seek the advice of an attorney well versed in criminal defense in your area.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 10/16/2012
    Law Office of Joe Dane
    Law Office of Joe Dane | Joe Dane
    Perjury is false testimony under oath - not what we are talking about here unless you take the standard willfully lie. You have rights, potentially up to not being forced to testify, but you'll need your own lawyer to assert those rights.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/16/2012
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