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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71132
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I have received a letter from the criminal justice system a

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I have received a letter from the criminal justice system a notice to attend a Magistrates Court it says that i am required to attend court to give evidence as a witness, I have already given the police a statement, I do not want to attend court do I have to, and what will happen if I dont.

Thank you for your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this.

Would this happen to involve a domestic squabble by any chance?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Yes Assault by beating


Is this the first time you've called the police either in this relationship or in others?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

No the police have been called on other occasions, it is my daughter that has been attacked by her partner, but she doesnt want to attend court and she doesnt want me to attend either.


Do you know how many other occasions?

I do mean exactly but roughly? Also has she done it in other relationships?

I presume you are not the victim? Sadly you just become involved by supporting her?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I would say at least five or six other occasions over a ten year period, this is the only relationship she has been in and has two children by him, one who is 7 and an 18 month old.

Thanks. Thats all I need to know. They are not going to drop this as there have been so many call outs.

From your point of view though, if you don't want to be in this position in future, just refuse to provide a statement. You commit no offence in doing so. There is no offence in the Uk of refusing to help the police with their enquiries. You are perfectly entitled to refuse a statement.

Once you have made a statement though I'm afraid you lose control over the case.

The truth is that there are no magic wands that will make this go away I'm afraid. You are subject to a summons so they know you are reluctant. You can tell them you are unhappy about giving evidence but that will not deter them given the number of times this has happened. Anyway you do not have the protection of being the victim in this case so you are more vulnerable than she is.

I realise that the background to this has nothing to do with you and is not of your creation but it might help you to understand the position.

Traditionally when complainants said that they were reluctant the prosecution was dropped. That has encouraged abuse from some sections of society.

Sadly, genuine victims of domestic abuse are not the only people who do call the police to domestic incidents. Some people, and it's not only women, seem to use the police as a mediation service and call them to almost every argument in the house. Also, some people make reports to the police knowing that they never intended to give evidence but just to get their partner out of the house for the evening.

This has led to understandable frustration amongst police officers. To deal with that they have turned to a policy of summonsing a reluctant witness.

Since they have summonsed you will have to think about what you want to do. Failing to answer a summons is a contempt of court in principle although it would not be prosecuted. I've only ever seen one prosecution for contempt arising from failing to answer a summons and that involved a person who has been a real drain on police resources.

What they might do is issue a witness warrant for your arrest to put you before the court to give evidence. There is about a 1% chance of that happening.

You can always attend and refuse to go into the witness box. That does offend against S85 Magistrates Court Act though and they do have the power to send you to prison for up to one month. I should mention that I have only ever seen that happen once and that case involved a woman who thought it was appropriate to summons the police when her teenage children were fighting. Even then all that happened was that she came into the witness box and told us all that we were all behaving disgracefully and the Bench let her go home.

Can I clarify anything for you?


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