Q: Can I plead the 5th in a dv case that is very traumatic?
Subpena issued for me to give a statement in dv case against my ex who is in county jail. The emotional stress that I am going through is the worst with anxiety, sleep deprivation due to nightmares, agitation, panic attacks......I can keep going but no need. I do not want to say anything, I just want to be left alone so I can recover. Do I have to give the depo or can I plead the 5th amendment? The case is in FLA
A: Whether you may invoke 5th Amendment protections depends upon a reasonable fear of prosecution. If you have such a fear, you need to confer confidentially with a qualified attorney to explore your options. There may be other consequences to a 5th Amendment invocation- such as a dismissal of the injunction. You could also explore with your attorney whether, and under what circumstances, you might be deposed. The attorney might accompany to the deposition or hearing to protect your interests. Since there may be a prosecution, you might be able to confer with a prosecutor or State Attorney witness coordinator, and you may have rights under Victim laws.
A: There should be a victim's advocate assigned to the case that you can talk to and express your concerns. Most likely, he or she will try to convince you that it is in your best interest to cooperate so that justice can be served. You have to decide what is in your best interest. I don't know the detail of this case. However, there is a reason why you are the "victim." Among other things, the Fifth Amendment affords us protection against self incrimination. How would you be incriminating yourself in this DV case if you were to testify? If you decide you do not want to prosecute, you can let the ASA in charge of the case know that you don't want to prosecute. The state may have sufficient evidence to move forward without your testimony. Best of luck to you!
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