In many instances, your testimony as the victim of a crime is a critical or essential component of the prosecution’s case against the defendant. However, there are some individuals who are reluctant to testify for a variety of reasons. It has been said that victims can become victims again by the manner in which a trial may be conducted. Our victims rights attorney can explain the legal obligations you have and can help protect your rights.
The legal process can be both lengthy and grueling. In balancing the government’s interest in punishing and deterring criminal behavior with the accused’s right to justice, many cases go through a long process of investigation and multiple pre-trial courtroom hearings before the actual trial occurs. All these can, at a minimum, be an inconvenience to you and may also be a financial burden if time off of work is required. Moreover, in certain cases there can be a fear-component involved. For example, in a domestic violence matter or a gang-related offense, you may justifiably be frightened of the possibility of retaliation as a payback for testimony that will likely lead to a conviction.
Despite the potential harm and actual inconvenience, the attorneys for either the prosecution or defense can compel your presence in court through the issuance of a subpoena. Ignoring a subpoena may subject you to contempt sanctions, which include fines, jail or both. For most people, a subpoena is sufficient pressure to ensure their appearance, but for others, the fear of retribution trumps the court’s power. If a judge suspects such a situation, a bond may be required of you to make certain you actually return to court. In extreme circumstances, the court may order the jailing of the witness until such time as the testimony takes place.
If you have been victimized by a criminal act, you of course want the responsible party punished, but it is important to remember you have rights. Be certain the prosecution hears your voice and you receive the protection you need from the defendant. You are not alone. Call the Law Office of Michael Fell at (877) 262-2430.