October 1, 2012 By Wallin & Klarich

Whether you have to come to court to testify as a witness in a criminal case depends upon whether you are served with a valid subpoena.

The fact that you were a witness to a possible crime does not mean you must go to court to testify.
The fact that you gave a statement to a police officer does not mean you must go to court to testify.


You only must go to court to testify if you were served with a valid subpoena that provides the date, time and exact location where you are to appear.

What is a “valid subpoena”?

To be a valid subpoena you must be personally served with the subpoena. If you are personally served then that means you were handed the subpoena personally by another person. If this happens you must appear to testify at the date and time specified in the legal document. However, in many cases you can call the party that wants you to testify and ask to be placed “on call”. This means that you do not have to sit in court, but you will be called when they need you.

However, if you were mailed a subpoena that does not make it a “valid subpoena”. If you are mailed a subpoena you do not have to appear in court to testify unless you receive a phone call from the party that has served you and provide that person with specific identifying information such as your drivers license number or social security number. If that does not happen then you cannot be punished for failing to attend the court hearing to testify.

The bottom line is that you only have to come to court to testify if the above procedures are followed.

At Wallin & Klarich, we have been serving subpoenas for over 30 years. We have defended thousands of clients facing criminal matters. If you or a loved one have been charged with a crime call the criminal defense lawyers of Wallin & Klarich, 888-280-6839. With offices in San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Riverside, Ventura and Orange County, we can defend you no matter where you live. We will be there when you call.

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