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The Role of the Subpoena in a NY Domestic Violence Case

For the right reasons, prosecutors in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Westchester and every other metropolitan District Attorney’s Office attempts to reach the victims of Domestic Violence as early as possible. In New York City, this is often done shortly after an arrest by ECAB (Early Case Assessment Bureau) prosecutors. As a defendant, and from the perspective of a New York Domestic Violence lawyer, it is important that the defense of a Domestic Violence arrest begin in this manner as well. All parties want to lock the complainant into certain statements that may be beneficial to a defense or prosecutor while also giving both parties the opportunity to find additional evidence.

Whether a complainant wants to cooperate or not and whether or not the arrest charges are accurate, Assistant District Attorneys almost always follow up phone calls by issuing subpoenas for complainants to appear in NY Criminal Court. This is a routine step in attempting to secure a complainant’s presence for questioning and investigation.

In no way is the following an assertion that a complainant should ignore such a subpoena, but there are some critical things to understand:

First, a subpoena requiring your presence can demand that presence before a Grand Jury or a court, but a subpoena in New York – whether it is tied to a Domestic Violence arrest or not – cannot require your appearance in the office of the District Attorney. Furthermore, a subpoena cannot force any party to speak with a prosecutor. To be clear, a properly served subpoena can secure your appearance before a Grand Jury or court, but the same cannot be used to enforce your appearance in a prosecutor’s office.

Even assuming you appear, not only are you are not required to speak to that Assistant District Attorney, but you cannot be forced to sign a supporting deposition or give a written statement. Frankly, it may be in your best interest to cooperate fully, give a statement or sign a corroborating affidavit. Regardless, the decision is yours alone to make. Should you have questions or concerns, contacting a New York Domestic Violence lawyer may mean the difference between the arrest of your spouse, partner, child or boyfriend exploding into a full scale felony or misdemeanor prosecution that may follow all parties involved for months or years and an appropriate resolution that reflects what truly may have happened or how you, as a complainant, want to see the case resolved.

Always think things through rationally. As noted, a prosecution may “require” your full cooperation due to the nature of the offense or it may be that prosecutors do not have a full grasp of the true facts. Remember, arrests, indictments and convictions do not just go away. Take the steps to ensure your own next step is the right one.

Call the New York criminal defense attorneys and former Manhattan domestic violence prosecutors at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today

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