In criminal cases witnesses, including alleged victims, often have questions about getting subpoenaed to testify. This is most true in domestic violence cases; often the alleged victim does not want to testify against the defendant for a variety of reasons.
In criminal cases the government must prove their case ‘beyond a reasonable doubt; this standard is required to obtain a criminal conviction. In order to do this, the state must introduce evidence that leads a trier of fact (judge or jury) to believe the defendant committed the crime in question. In most cases, this evidence comes from the testimony of witnesses. Forcing a person to appear in court to tell their version of events is an essential element of our criminal justice system; cross examining this person is constitutionally guaranteed under the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
In order for a witness to have an obligation to appear in court to testify in a criminal case, they must be properly served with a subpoena. This can be done by mail or by service of process. However, if the government cannot show the court that the person subpoenaed actually received the subpoena they may have a problem proving their case if the witness fails to appear. This is so because unless the subpoena was served on the alleged victim, the government may have no recourse to ensure their presence or testimony. Often this results in dismissal of the case pending against the Defendant.
Alternatively, if the alleged victim is served with a subpoena, the government can prove that the witness knew they had to be in court, and thus can obtain a material witness warrant for their arrest if they fail to appear. It is common in domestic violence related cases for the government to aggressively attempt to serve the alleged victim with a subpoena because as noted at the beginning of this blog, ‘the alleged victim [often] does not want to testify against the defendant for a variety of reasons.’ Regardless of the alleged victim’s wishes, however, it is common for the government to push forward in domestic violence case. Often, the only way to truly ensure a strong chance at proving their case beyond a reasonable doubt is to have the alleged victim testify, whether they want to or not. Hence, their reliance on service of process for the subpoena.
It should go without saying, but if you or a loved has been arrested for a domestic violence related crime in Washington State immediately contact a Seattle domestic violence criminal defense attorney to protect your rights and interests. The Seattle domestic violence criminal defense attorneys that make up the criminal defense team of SQ Attorneys are highly qualified and reputable Seattle domestic violence criminal defense lawyers that are dedicated to providing top notch, aggressive representation for those arrested for crime all across Western Washington and the Greater Puget Sound region. The team creates success by working with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the criminal allegations are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible in light of all the surrounding circumstances of the given case. So, whether cited for domestic violence related malicious mischief, assault, property destruction or some other crime, protect yourself … call SQ Attorneys immediately.