Will a warrant be issued for my arrest if I do not show up to a federal court date? 34 Answers as of June 10, 2013

I am a victim in a federal court case. I am not pressing charges on the girl the city is but the put a subpoena in my mailbox calling me and 2 other people to court. I do not feel comfortable going the the trial as it will just cause more problems for me in the long run. Will they issue a warrant for my arrest and if they do how much jail time will I have to do over this?

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Law Office of Geoffrey M. Yaryan
Law Office of Geoffrey M. Yaryan | Geoffrey M. Yaryan
They will issue some form of warrant if you don't honor a subpoena. You can be found in contempt of court and possibly incarceration until the trial ends.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/17/2011
Michael Anthony Wing, P.C.
Michael Anthony Wing, P.C. | Michael Anthony Wing
I don't know honestly. There are risks, but they are probably minimal. For instance, they would have to prove you received the subpoena, and if you remain silent, I don't see how they could prove it. Stay well.
Answer Applies to: Alabama
Replied: 5/17/2011
Law Offices of John Carney
Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
In your summary you indicate that you are a perspective witness in a federal trial. The judge could sign a material witness order an have you arrested and held in jail until your testimony. You should call the prosecutor and tell him of your concerns.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 5/16/2011
Beaulier Law Office
Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
If you were properly subpoenaed- which generally requires personal service- a warrant can be issued for a failure to appear as stated on the subpoena.
Answer Applies to: Minnesota
Replied: 5/16/2011
Timothy J. Thill P.C.
Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
You had better appear as a witness for the government. If you fail to appear, at the court's discretion, they can issue a bench warrant for your immediate arrest and force you to appear. Violation for civil contempt is punishable by up to 6 months in jail for state offenses, I am not sure how much time you will get in the Federal system.
Answer Applies to: Illinois
Replied: 5/16/2011
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law | Thomas J. Tomko
    If you are properly served with a summons to appear in Court, your failure to appear could be the basis for a contempt charge. Therefore, you could be subject to a warrant, arrest, and even jail time. I hope that this was helpful.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/16/2011
    Jules N. Fiani, Attorney at Law
    Jules N. Fiani, Attorney at Law | Jules Fiani
    If you were legally subpoenaed then one who ignores a court order does so at their own peril so you could possibly be arrested or there would be a protective witness warrant for your arrest and you would be incarcerated until the time of trial if you are a necessary witness.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/16/2011
    Nelson & Lawless
    Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
    Yes, there will be a warrant, for the purpose of bringing you to court the hard way. The penalty for ignoring the Courts orders is up to the judge.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/16/2011
    The English Law Firm
    The English Law Firm | Robert English
    It will cause problems if you don't go to the trial. They can issue a warrant for your arrest. Generally, you won't do jail time for the violation itself, but they can hold you in jail until the court hears the case.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/16/2011
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly | Brendan M. Kelly
    You should not get a warrant. Service to be valid must by person (hand to hand) unless you return something saying you will be there.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 5/16/2011
    Law Office of Andrew Subin
    Law Office of Andrew Subin | Andrew Subin
    Yes.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/10/2013
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C.
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C. | Theodore W. Robinson
    Yes, they will issue what is known as a Material Witness Warrant or a similar named document that requires you to appear in court when they tell you. The police or Marshall's office will serve it and if it is written properly, they will be authorized to arrest you and produce you in court to testify. If you have previously given a written sworn statement in this case (and I'm sure you did) then you will be required to at least say whatever is in that statement at the very least. If you have further questions, speak to an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 5/16/2011
    Law Office of Michael Moody
    Law Office of Michael Moody | Michael Moody
    Yes, the court may issue a writ of attachment and instruct the federal authorities to arrest you for contempt of court.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 5/16/2011
    Howard W. Collins, Attorney at Law
    Howard W. Collins, Attorney at Law | Howard W. Collins
    If you fail to answer a subpoena you can be held in contempt of court. This could result in a fine and or jail. Why would you want to jeopardize your own freedom for the sake of someone who hurt you?
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 5/16/2011
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    Typically they would issue a material witness warrant. That allows the US Marshall's Service to arrest you and bring you before the court. If they arrest you on a Friday, you would be sitting in jail until Monday. My advice for dealing with this situation would be to talk to the Assistant U.S. Attorney in charge of the case. Let him or her know your concerns. It may be the attorney doesn't need your testimony, or perhaps would be willing to make the defendant a better deal.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 5/16/2011
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    You should actually talk to an attorney, not a service. There are, in my opinion, questions regarding whether or not you may actually have been served.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/16/2011
    Bloom Legal, LLC
    Bloom Legal, LLC | Seth J. Bloom
    You will likely be held in contempt of court and have a fine imposed. You may also have a bench warrant issued for your arrest. If you have issues with appearing for trial you should make an effort to contact the party who issued the subpoena and explain your situation to them. It is not advisable to ignore a federal subpoena.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 5/16/2011
    Edward  D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law
    Edward D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law | Edward D. Dowling IV
    It may be possible to hire an attorney to attempt to Quash the subpoena. If the subpoena is not quashed, then you must show up or be held in contempt of court and is punishable by a fine and /or imprisonment. How much time in prison depends on a lot of factors.You should hire an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 5/16/2011
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
    A subpoena is a court order, by receiving a subpoena you are given notice that the court has ordered you to appear and make yourself available to give testimony if needed. If you ignore the subpoena or directly refuse to cooperate, you could risk being charged with a contempt of court action. The court may incarcerate you and or fine you for being in contempt of the court's order. You can be held in jail until you appear and comply with the order, you may also be fined in an amount set by the court for each day you remain in contempt. You may be labeled as a material witness, whereby the court could issue a material witness warrant to have you arrested and be subject to posting a bond in order to be released. If this happens and you fail to appear, your bond may be revoked and you may be held without bond until you appear in court and give testimony. You should consult an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 5/16/2011
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider | Peter Goldscheider
    If you have been subpoenaed and do not show up in court, upon application of the party who subpoenaed you, a warrant may be issued for your arrest. Once you are apprehended you could be held in custody until you are called to testify. By the way it doesn't matter if you don't want to "press charges". That is not within your power to decide.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/16/2011
    Harden Law Offices
    Harden Law Offices | Leonard D. Harden
    In order for a subpoena to be valid under NH law it must be served in hand. If you are validly served a subpoena you must appear or you could be arrested. .However, in the facts you described it doesn't seem like adequate service. In terms of the amount of time you may be incarcerated, generally you would be arrested and brought to court to testify under a contempt process. After appearing you would likely be sent home. It is unlikely you would actually be charged separately unless there were more to the facts, such as hindering an investigation or other acts. In short I would strongly suggest that you meet with a lawyer provide him with all of the information and paperwork before deciding whether to ignore the notice you received in the mail.
    Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
    Replied: 5/16/2011
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C.
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C. | Craig Elhart
    A subpoena is a court order commanding you to do something, in this case testify at trial. If it was properly served on you, you should follow the mandate of the subpoena. Upon non-compliance, the person asking for the subpoena can ask the court to hold you in contempt of court and, yes, this could involve you going to jail. In addition there could be an assessment of costs. If you did not appear for a hearing on a motion to show cause, the court could issue a bench warrant for your arrest.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/16/2011
    Goolsby Law Office
    Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
    I would recommend to anyone who has been subpoenaed that they should honor the subpoena. The consequences of a contempt are very serious. You should contact an attorney to discuss and address your concerns, and have your attorney discuss your concerns with the prosecutor (prior to the court date), but not showing up should not be the answer. Good luck!
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 5/16/2011
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang | Tracey Sang
    It's possible that they will. It simply depends on whether they can make the case without you and whether they wish to make your life difficult. The best approach is usually to inform the prosecutor that you do not want to testify and ask to be excused as a witness.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/13/2011
    Law Office of Rankin Johnson IV, LLC
    Law Office of Rankin Johnson IV, LLC | Rankin Johnson IV
    Unlikely. In theory, the state could prosecute you for failing to honor a properly-served subpoena. Because a subpoena is a court order, failing to obey it is contempt of court. In state court, a mailed subpoena is not really valid, and one dropped off in your mailbox wouldn't be, either. I don't know offhand whether such a subpoena is valid in federal court, but I doubt it; how could they prove you got it? And, even if they could, victims of crime are rarely prosecuted for not cooperating.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 5/13/2011
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C.
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C. | Dennis Roberts
    Leaving something in your mailbox is not valid. Why not call the woman's attorney and see if you can avoid appearing.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/13/2011
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC | Timothy J. Klisz
    Why would you not go to court? The judge could hold you until you testify.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/13/2011
    The Law Office of Kevin O'Grady
    The Law Office of Kevin O'Grady | Kevin O'Grady
    Although what follows deals with a state case, it is quite instructive.- Assault victim arrested to ensure her testimony A 26-year-old woman's college graduation celebration with friends and family was cut short Monday when investigators for the city Prosecutor's Office arrested her - not for committing any crime but because she is the complaining witness in a domestic violence trial scheduled to begin in state court next week. The investigators arrested the woman at 9:30 p.m. Monday at the conclusion of Chaminade University's commencement ceremony at the Blaisdell Arena. The state arrested the woman because she told investigators she planned to leave the state the morning after she graduated, said city prosecutor spokesman Dave Koga. He said Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro's philosophy regarding domestic violence is that he will not drop any cases nor cut any plea deals. Koga said the prosecutor filed an application for a material witness order with a state judge Monday and asked the judge to issue an arrest warrant based on what the woman had told the investigators about leaving the state before the trial. He said the judge scheduled a hearing for Tuesday and issued a $5,000 arrest warrant. The investigators took the woman to Honolulu Police Department headquarters for booking. Police released her at 1 a.m. Tuesday after she posted bail. Circuit Judge Richard Pollack postponed a hearing on Tuesday after the woman said she wanted to talk to her father about whether she should get a lawyer. The woman could not be reached for comment. According to state law, if a judge determines that a person is a material witness in a pending criminal proceeding, he can set bail to make sure the person appears in court. Nanci Kreidman, chief executive officer of the Domestic Violence Action Center, said that in general, she opposes arresting victims to assure their testimony at trial. "We don't want victims to be re-victimized," Kreidman said. The woman is the complaining witness in five of six charges against her ex-boyfriend. She told police that her ex-boyfriend, with whom she had a five-year relationship, showed up at the apartment they shared last October and found her with another man. She said the ex-boyfriend choked her, slammed her head into a door, threatened her with kitchen knives and took away her phone when she tried to call 911. He will be tried on charges of first-degree terroristic threatening, intentional choking, abuse of a family or household member, interfering with the reporting of a crime or emergency and criminal property damage (for allegedly stabbing a door with a knife, breaking the knife). He is facing a second terroristic threatening charge involving the other man. The ex-boyfriend is free on supervised release pending trial, without having to post bail. Before Pollack granted him supervised release in January, he was free on his own recognizance.
    Answer Applies to: Hawaii
    Replied: 5/13/2011
    Austin Legal Services, PLC
    Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
    It will be up to the prosecutor to ask the judge for a bench warrant for failure to appear, but they can and if the request is made, the judge will grant it. The prosecution can proceed with or without your cooperation. It is not wise to simply skip a court date because a warrant can be issued if you do not show up.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/13/2011
    Edward A. Kroll, Attorney at Law
    Edward A. Kroll, Attorney at Law | Edward A. Kroll
    If you fail to obey the subpoena (which is a court order) it is possible that a warrant could issue for your arrest. Is it likely? Probably not. But it is possible. If the subpoena was mailed to you, it might not be valid service, however. I would advise you to speak to a federally licensed criminal attorney in your area. If you are in Oregon, please feel free to give me a call.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 5/13/2011
    The Law Offices of Gabriel Dorman
    The Law Offices of Gabriel Dorman | Gabriel Dorman
    Absolutely! If you have received a federal witness subpoena you MUST do as directed or the court will issue a warrant for your arrest.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/13/2011
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