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My boyfriend is going to jury trial for domestic violence and I have have received a...

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shanesgrl | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 13, 2008 at 8:01 AM via web

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My boyfriend is going to jury trial for domestic violence and I have have received a supoena to testify against him. Can I plead the fifth?

We got into a fight and I ended up with a small cut above my eye. Now he is on parole; that is why they arrested him. I did not press charges but the state did. I did write the state a letter stating that if I was forced to testify, it would be for my boyfriend's benefit.

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parkerlee | Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted December 13, 2008 at 5:13 PM (Answer #1)

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A woman cannot be called to testify against her own husband or vice-versa (married at the time of the incident), but the court can call you to testify. 

You should put your emotions aside and trust the legal system to be fair to everyone (even your boyfriend) in this case. Perhaps a little reprisal would be good for him, no? it might spare him (and you) greater problems in the long run....

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prospero | College Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted December 15, 2008 at 7:57 AM (Answer #2)

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The previous answer makes reference to the marital privilege in which communications between spouses can be kept confidential even in court.  However, you do not qualify here because (1) you are not spouses, and even if you were, (2) most jurisdictions recognize an exception to the privilege when one spouse is being charged with a crime as against the other spouse.

The 5th Amendment doesn't protect you here either because that gives you the right not to testify against yourself in a criminal case.  Here, you would be testifying against your boyfriend, not yourself.

Thus, you likely have to testify truthfully if compelled to do so.  Remember that you can do yourself no harm by telling the truth.  If you were to lie under oath to help your boyfriend, you would be subject to criminal charges of perjury.  It would not be worth it.  Best of luck. 

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langiottib | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 26, 2008 at 10:18 PM (Answer #3)

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Fifth ammendment rights only apply to married couples. It is not likely that you can refuse. I assume your boyfriend has a defense attorney, ask that attorney how you can avoid testifying.

I would seriously consider a new boyfriend and some counseling though.

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