Washington, DC asked in Criminal Law for Virginia

Q: If I didnt agree to be a witness for the prosecution, do I have to speak with them before the trial?

I picked my friend up after she allegedly committed a crime. The police came to job and I gave them permission to search my apartment where they found said friend. I had no prior knowledge that this friend had just allegedly committed this crime. That was 9 months ago and now I have been subpoenaed to testify on the prosecution's behalf. No one has tried to contact me once my friend was arrested to talk any further about the case except the defense attorney. Do I have to talk to the prosecution before trial if I dont want to? I understand I will have to testify and answer questions in court but I dont want to answer any questions before hand. Do I have to talk to either lawyer before trail?

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2 Lawyer Answers
Susan Fremit
Susan Fremit
Answered
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Spotsylvania , VA
  • Licensed in Virginia

A: You don't have to answer any questions but you also don't want to be charged with hiding your friend. However, it is not likely you will be asked any questions by the prosecution until the day of court for which you were subpoenaed.

Shemeka C Hankins agrees with this answer

1 user found this answer helpful

Bernard Crane
Bernard Crane
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Washington, DC
  • Licensed in Virginia

A: Short answer: No.

You don't have to talk to the prosecutor, either at their office or at the courthouse, except to identify yourself if they call out your name in the courtroom or the hallway outside the court, and even then only IF the have subpoenaed you. A subpoena does not take away your fifth Amendment right to refrain from answering questions, except when you are actually on the witness stand. However, if you get subpoenaed to the Grand Jury, you DO have to go, and you DO have to answer questions. However, you still don't have to talk to the prosecutor or answer his questions outside the Grand Jury room. If he tries to take you into his office or room outside the courtroom or Grand Jury room to speak to you, you don't have to go with him. Your only obligations is to answer questions propounded to you in court or before the Grand Jury.

What's more, you have a Fifth Amendment right to not answer any questions that might tend to incriminate you. IN the situation you described, it sounds like yo definitely might have a legitimate Fifth Amendment right to avoid some or all of the questions about this situation. You should tell the prosecutor or the judge that yo believe you have a Fifth Amendment right to not answer questions, and ask them to have a lawyer appointed to represent you.

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