Can A Witness Be Made To Testify In Your Court Case?

Having a witness on your side could be the key to helping you win your big day in court. The problem is that the witness could refuse to go to court to help you out. Your lawyer can try to compel the witness to testify on your behalf, but there are some situations that can excuse the witness from doing so.

Why A Witness Can Choose Not To Testify

Calling on a witness in court involves issuing that person a subpoena. It requires them to show up to court with a possible criminal and civil penalty if they decide not to. Once they are in court, the witness can request that they are excused from testifying.

Testimony That Is Self-Incriminating

It's possible that the testimony would be self-incriminating, which would result in them being charged with a crime if they testified for you. The witness has the right to be excused thanks to the protections offered in the Fifth Amendment.

Testimony That Is Protected

Any statement that is made to an attorney, clergyman, or psychotherapist has legal protection. These people cannot be forced to give information that they were told in confidence. Spouses also have similar protection where they cannot be forced to testify against you.

Testimony From Someone That Isn't Competent

A person's mental capacity, illness, and age will be considered for their ability to recall specific events accurately. This could include a small child that is not fully aware of the situation or a person that has Alzheimer's disease.

Testimony From Someone With Diplomatic Immunity

While someone with diplomatic immunity can testify if they choose to, they also have protection that can allow them to not testify.

Anybody who does not fall into these categories will need to show up to court to testify.

How A Witness Can Be Convinced To Testify

When the witness has decided not to testify, it's possible that your lawyer can help convince them to do so. They just need to work with the witness to address any of their concerns that is causing them to object to testifying.

For example, a person that has been abused by their spouse may fear testifying against their spouse because of more abuse that could happen in the future. In this situation, a lawyer can help explain to them how a testimony can be given anonymously due to these circumstances. For self-incriminating testimony, a lawyer can help negotiate immunity to crimes that they will be admitting to in the testimony.

Think you'll have a problem with a witness not testifying? Speak to a lawyer like Sinsheimer, Stuart J for assistance. 

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