Can you go to jail or prison even if the alleged victim of a criminal offense is uncooperative or even unwilling to testify? The answer is yes, in fact, a Houston woman found out you can even go to jail if you are the witness in a criminal offense as well.
The State of Texas has a very powerful weapon in its arsenal to “compel” witnesses, alleged victims, and even family members of the accused to testify in a jury trial. If the State of Texas and its agents lawfully serve a subpoena on a potential witness, that subpoena, in essence, acts as a court order to appear before the court.
If the witness does not show up they can be arrested for contempt of court by means of a Writ of Attachment. Keep in mind most prosecutors ask the Court to issue a Writ of Attachment in limited circumstances. But they always have that option.
Many times those charged with offenses involving assault of a family member or spouse mistakenly believe that if a witness or an alleged victim of an assault does not testify or does not cooperate with the State they can’t be forced to testify at a trial. For the most part, if a prosecutor wants to procure a witness or an alleged victim’s testimony they can get it.
Even if the State puts a witness or an alleged victim of an assault on the stand can they force them to testify? Yes and No. Many believe victims or witnesses have a 5th Amendment right to not testify. That Constitutional right exists and is in place for those that could say something that would incriminate themselves thereby exposing them to criminal prosecution. Most alleged victims of an offense do not have a 5th Amendment right to not testify against a loved one.
There is a limited exception to this called the spousal privilege. Spouses do not have to testify against another spouse in regard to conversations, but not something they witnessed. There are of course exceptions to the Spousal Privilege rule as well. Can a witness just refuse to testify or answer questions once on the stand? Sure, but they run the risk of being found in contempt of court and being placed in jail or fined.
Criminal offenses involving assault and aggravated assault can be very serious. If you or a loved one has been charged with any level of assault, it is important to consult an experienced Tarrant County defense attorney. Even if you believe your loved one is “on your side” or will not testify against you, that isn’t always the case, as seen above.
The team of attorneys at Tarrant County based Townsend, Gebhardt, & Eppes, PLLC are former state prosecutors. They possess the skill and experience to build the strongest defense on your behalf. Contact Townsend, Gebhardt, & Eppes, PLLC at (817) 502-3600 for a free initial consultation.
Townsend, Gebhardt, & Eppes, PLLC strongly defend individuals throughout the greater Fort Worth area, including Arlington, Weatherford, Cleburne, and many surrounding communities.