I've been summoned to court. Do I have to testify?

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Latest post Mon, Sep 22 2008 10:41 AM by ca19lawyer2. 4 replies.
  • Fri, Sep 19 2008 2:27 PM

    • urtpiz
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    • Joined on Fri, Sep 19 2008
    • Posts 1

    I've been summoned to court. Do I have to testify?

    I been ordered to appear in court as a witness for the plaintiff in a divorce trial. This is dreadful for me and I wish I didn't have to go. Do I have to answer every question, or can I decline? I expect to be asked personal questions, and I'm upset because they shouldn't have involved me. Help please.
  • Fri, Sep 19 2008 2:56 PM In reply to

    Feedback [*=*] re: I've been summoned to court. Do I have to testify?

    I would expect either the plaintiff's attorney or the defense attorney to object to questions of you that are not deemed relevent or necessary. You should wait for the judge to rule on any objections before you respond. Also, if you do not understand a question, ask the attorney to repeat it or rephrase it before you respond. Finally, you don't have to answer immediately. If you are nervous, take a deep breath before you answer.

    But, yes, you have to go and, you probably have to testify. You do have some a right to not answer questions that might implicate you in criminal activity. But, I would not think that such questions would arise in a divorce case.

    You do not have the right to refuse to answer merely because the answer might be embarassing to you or to the plaintiff/defendent.

    You are free to consult with a local attorney if you feel a need for more specific guidance, etc.

  • Fri, Sep 19 2008 6:12 PM In reply to

    • LynnM
      Lawyer
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    • Joined on Mon, Apr 3 2000
    • CA
    • Posts 28,248

    re: I've been summoned to court. Do I have to testify?

    A subpoena is an order, not an invitation.
  • Fri, Sep 19 2008 8:32 PM In reply to

    • Ford
      Lawyer
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    • Joined on Thu, Mar 16 2000
    • Posts 12,797

    Feedback [*=*] The government can put people to death . . .

    Having to testify in court is a tad bit less serious.

    Yes, if you receive a subpoena you have to appear and testify. Failure to do so can be punished either through the court's contempt power or criminal action. You might even be subject to a monetary penalty in favor of the party who sub'd you.
  • Mon, Sep 22 2008 10:41 AM In reply to

    re: I've been summoned to court. Do I have to testify?

    I agree with all of the prior responses, but one further point bears making.

    The reason why you were served with the subpoena is because the party who served it believes you have relevant information. On the other hand, you say that "they" shouldn't have involved" you. Why do you say that? I suspect you have no good answer to that question. However, if your answer is because you believe, in good faith, that you have no relevant information, you are free to talk with a local attorney about moving to quash the subpoena so that you don't have to testify.
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