How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Jo C. Your Own Question
Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 70524
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
12826847
Type Your Law Question Here...
Jo C. is online now

My wife (Natalie) has received a "notice to attend" court as

Resolved Question:

My wife (Natalie) has received a "notice to attend" court as a witness, in a case where the crime is assault by beating; the victim is my wife's sister (Heather); and the accused is Heather's husband (Dave). There's not much doubt that the beating took place - Heather went to hospital and the police arrived at the house as the assault was taking place. Dave has pleaded not guilty and (we assume) is going to plead either provocation or diminished responsibility. (And we're pretty sure, he's been under the care of a psychiatrist and on medication since the events of that night.)
My wife is deeply reluctant to go to court, for three reasons. (A) she has a relapsing-remitting neurological condition and fears that the stress of cross-examination would aggravate her issues, and (B) her witness statement (*) was very full and she has little more to add, and (C) her statement was quite balanced but - with her sister in court - she'd feel strongly pressured to say only things that favoured her sister. She'd find it hard to be properly objective given that pressure.
[* - Heather was on the phone to Natalie on and off through the evening of the assault, so my wife is able to testify to what Heather was telling her at the time. Also, we saw the Heather/Dave relationship unfold over some years, so the stateement goes into some detail about the conflicts in that relationnship.]
So, my question. Is natalie technically compelled to go to court? Would she be heard sympathetically if she asked to be released? What in practice would happen if she just didn't turn up? Many thanks for your wisdom!
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

Who called the police?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Heather - she barricaded herself in a room, called the police and remained on the line as Dave battered at the door. So there's really not much doubt that the assault happened. The argument will be around context. And - full disclosure - my wife is sympathetic to Dave's (presumed) claims of provocation and/or diminished responsibility. There WERE both factors present. But hard to say taht in a room with her sister listening and a barrister teasing the answer out in all its gory detail.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

Do you know if she has done this before?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
This was the first assault and the first police involvement. Heather is not seeking a jail term for Dave and the case is being held in a magistrates court not a county court.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

It doesn't matter what she is seeking. It is of no relevance. Point is that she has made this allegation.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

It is very unfortunate as it all could have been avoided if the police hadn't been called but they were.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

The reality is that this is a summons. If she ignores it that is a contempt of court. She will not be prosecuted but they may issue a warrant for her arrest to put her before the court to give evidence.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

The reality is that this is a summons. If she ignores it that is a contempt of court. She will not be prosecuted but they may issue a warrant for her arrest to put her before the court to give evidence.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

That does not happen all that often and, in fairness, there isn't a history of her sister doing this which helps. But your wife does not have the protection of being the victim so a witness warrant is possible.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

There are also offences in going to court and refusing to give evidence. Again, rarely used by possible.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Jo

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Sorry - your site is glitching and my internet is cutting in and out. Just one more thing, on the disability issue, if my wife says, yes she can come, but it would need to be at a fixed time and in the afternoon. (eg: at 2.00 on a set day), would that work? The reality is that she simply could not arrive (from Oxon) by 9.30, wait for 6 hours, then be called as a witness. She simply couldn't cope with that, no matter how well or ill she was that day. And would she need to supply a doctor's letter or would her own statement suffice? (She IS ill - and her needs ARE genuine.)
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

Yes, I know the feeling about glitching! I am having similar problems.

She can always tell them that they will need to make those arrangements for her but the reality is that criminal courts cannot really give people are particular time slot. This would take priority over other cases, depending on what is double listed, but it is possible there could be lack of court time and the like or a genuine delay with something like an absent clerk. Magistrates Courts are chaos.

They would probably try to make some arrangements for her though.

Jo C. and other Law Specialists are ready to help you