Summons To Attend Court......Against My Will

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SnowQueen1973 | 00:48 Thu 17th Mar 2011 | Criminal
16 Answers
Just over a month ago a neighbour called the police when I had a very nasty domestic with my partner. A lot of alcohol had been consumed and it all turned nasty.
Partly because I was pressured by a neighbour who had his own agenda, and also because I was angry during the heat of the moment, I made a statement. I have since patched things up with him and I went to the police with the intention of retracting my statement. I was told by the officer dealing with the case that he had to get permission from the CPS. The following day he called me back to say that he could retract it. He assured me that I would not have to appear in court. However, he was due to be away the following week, but assured me it would be dealt with promptly when he returned.
Imagine, therefore, my shock when attending the station on the appointed day I was given not a retraction to sign but instead a summons to appear in court to give evidence!
It has been making me ill as I dread the thought of my partner facing a potential jail sentence due to something I said and signed not only when I was angry but also under pressure. I told this to the police but it made no difference. It therefore seems that without me the prosecution may not have enough to convict him, although they do have photographs and the statement of a neighbour who heard the argument which escalated from verbal into physical.
I am now in desperate need of legal advice. If I did not show up in court would the case just fall apart or would they arrest me and hence drag in out even further, adjourning it til a later date? Is there any other way out of this that would not involve me spending a night in the cells for contempt?


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Bear in mind, SnowQueen, that to discharge your obligation to answer the summons you only have to attend court. Of course your memory may be very “hazy” when it comes to giving evidence and nothing the witness summons does can force you to remember details of events you have “forgotten”. (I’m sure you get my drift).

The CPS now has a policy of...
14:13 Thu 17th Mar 2011
If you fail to give evidence against someone who has committed an offence against you, you could end up spending a great deal longer than one night in the the cells. See here:

As far as the CPS is concerned, your partner has committed an offence against you AND against 'the law of the land'. Even if you no longer wish to see the prosecution continued with, the CPS will take the view that the other 'victim' (= 'the law of the land') still requires a prosecution.

You have not stated what your partner has been charged with. If it's 'common assault', the chances of him receiving a custodial sentence are probably negligible. Even it's 'ABH' he's probably likely to avoid a custodial sentence.

Contact Victim Support, making it clear that you intend to honour your legal obligation to provide truthful evidence but that you also wish to have the court hear about your support for your partner:

Question Author
I don't know....if it means it would fall apart me spending one night in the cells is better than him spending a few months in jail. But if they simply assume I have not shown because I am afraid, arrest me and adjourn it would mean me being arrested for nothing. On the other hand I don't know if they even will chase it friend was in a situation where a man assaulted her, she was genuinely scared of him and did not show up in court for that reason.They did not pursue her after, and the man got away with it. I could show up and remain silent, but this would mean they could use the statement I made, unless there is a way I can retract it in court. What worries me is that they may assume if I don't show up that it is because I am afraid.....and it is not that. Witness care have already been trying to badger me, and I asked them to leave me alone. As a so called victim the cps have not been taking my wishes into account in the slightest, all they seem to want is a conviction and f*** how I feel, f*** the fact I don't want to live with playing a part in putting a man in jail. I am not claiming he did nothing wrong or that he is perfect, but at the end of the day if I forgive him it is my perogative, and I am not perfect myself, so I just wish they would leave me alone.
Question Author
Thank you Chris. I will do what you suggest and contact them.
What worries me is that my partner is already on probation for an unrelated matter, and this may go against him. What he is being charged with is 'assault by beating', which is likely to be more serious than just common assault but less serious than ABH....
Question Author
Your link, Chris, made me very angry, but it does not surprise me....and indeed it does show they are living in the dark ages. That poor woman obviously claimed the allegations were false because there was no other way she could get the case dropped......I feel I am being treated in a similiar way. The police and the CPS had a similiar meeting this week, as to whether to pursue the case or not. As I was not prepared to lie and admitted the initial allegations were true they obviously decided to go ahead. Not that I was ever pressing the charges anyway, I only made a statement when not only did a neighbour pressure me but the police called and asked me to make one (after I had earlier expressed reluctance to), so I was always a reluctant witness anyway, and had I not been angry I would not have sucummbed to any pressure from either parties. I asked them right away was a prison sentence likely, they said they doubted it but from what he has said since neither he nor his lawyer sound so confident.
Thanks for your replies.

I wasn't expecting my first link to gain your sympathy! I only posted it to show that if you refuse to give evidence you face a very real risk of ending up 'on the wrong side of the law' yourself.

However 'assault by beating' is only a different wording for 'common assault', so it's at the lowest possible level of assault charges. While it carries a theoretical maximum penalty of 6 months imprisonment it would be extremely unusual for anyone convicted of that offence to be sent to prison. (Even those who are convicted at the bottom of the scale for the more serious offence of 'ABH' normally avoid imprisonment).

Attend court, give your evidence and make it clear that you're seeking reconciliation with your partner, not separation from him. He'll be given a 'community sentence' and then you can both get on with your lives.

Bear in mind, SnowQueen, that to discharge your obligation to answer the summons you only have to attend court. Of course your memory may be very “hazy” when it comes to giving evidence and nothing the witness summons does can force you to remember details of events you have “forgotten”. (I’m sure you get my drift).

The CPS now has a policy of pursuing domestic violence charges wherever possible even if the alleged victim subsequently withdraws her/his allegation. This often results in witness summonses being issued as in your case. It is no surprise that a number of alleged victims recall little or nothing of the event when they reach the witness box.

As far as repercussions go should you fail to attend court, the CPS is not generally in the business of prosecuting witnesses or victims, and they will consider very carefully all the circumstances before deciding whether to take action against you. The case cited by Chris is a little more serious than simply not answering a witness summons and it is most unlikely that you would be charged with perverting the course of justice should you fail to attend.

Having said that, whilst I can understand your feelings, the police and CPS use a tremendous amount of their resources dealing with domestic violence. The situation you present to them is far from unusual and a decision was taken two or three years ago to continue cases without the victim’s consent if at all possible. Whilst it may be your prerogative to forgive your partner it is not your privilege to decide whether or not the prosecution continues. As Chris says, the CPS has the wider picture to consider.

Finally, my own view is that you should attend court, give truthful evidence concerning the assault and let justice take its course. Because domestic violence nearly always worsens if unaddressed.
Question Author
Thank you, New Judge. The situation Chris described of course involved a witness claiming later the allegations were false, which is more serious than simply not attending court, and I have no intention of trying to retract the statement on those grounds as I have no intention of lying and thus putting my own liberty at risk to save his.....

On the other hand, I have made it clear that I have various problems that make attending court harder for me, I have health problems that the stress of this case is worsening and the CPS do not seem to care, all they want is a conviction. I can see it from their side as a lot of time was wasted in cases being dropped, hence this law being introduced, but it hardly makes life easier for victims who want to retract for whatever reason. The sum of it is....if I must attend court do I have the right to simply remain silent and refuse to say anything which will incriminate my partner? I need advice re that, because if I do not have that right the temptation simply not to attend becomes more appealing, if it results in the case simply falling apart and them failing to pursue it, as seemed to have been the case with my friend (who, ironically, was genuinely afraid, whereas this is not the case with myself.....I simply forgive him for what happened and just want us both to be able to get on with our lives and repair our relationship and address our various problems, without the State breathing down our necks or keeping us unwillingly apart). When I first made the statement the magistrate put a restraining order on him as part of the bail conditions, working on the assumption it was my intention to seperate from him. As this is now not the case, I would of course need to make that clear to the court so they don't impose such conditions again as part of a community sentence.
Question Author
Just to add, I do get New Judge's drift about not remembering, that has long been my intention, to say my recollection is hazy and I just don't remember....the problem may come in when they start the cross examination thing....if they directly ask the question 'did he hit you?'....which I have told the police that he did....I'm not sure whether to just say I can't remember (which I said I clearly could at the time of the statement and even since then), or to just reply 'no comment'.....I am not sure whether or not I have the right to do that.
In you case, tell in court that you ''DO NOT INTEND TO SAY ANYTHING'' and they will close the case.
There have been many, many cases of assault of all degrees being successfully prosecuted even where there have been no victims to give evidence or even make a complaint.
If there is other proof, such as original statements, medical evidence, photographs of injuries etc the case can proceed without your co-operation.
If your partner gets away with it this time what's to stop him the next time he's had a drink or two?
Your partner sounds so nice

I would just get married tomorrow as he seems such a catch.

Best tell him to not to have too much to drink at the reception
I would suggest that your failure to give evidence will only land you in trouble.

The CPS will not drop this as your neighbour is also a viable witness and his/her testimony coupled with your refusal to testify (or 'remember') may still leads to your partner's conviction. Also, what statement has he given the Police?

Go to Court, tell the truth and make it clear that you are reconciled. This will provide the best outcome.
Notice how you dont mention the spelling or punctuation in this thread why is that?
Question Author
To give an update..the case was dropped today due to lack of reliable evidence...I can't say what was said at the meeting but maybe the fact that they knew I would not be a reliable witness came into it.

The police deliberately mislead me into giving me the impresssion that the cps were not allowing me to retract the statement, when all the time they were. This was revealed to me when somebody from witness care rang and told me it was still my right to retract.So I did so, and two days later (today, I retracted it on Mon) I was told that the case has been dropped, I heard about it before even my partner was officially informed.

I am just glad it is over...and hope we can make a fresh start from here. We couldn't see each other for nearly two months due to the bail conditions, so I'm hoping we can have a celebration over the next few nights now that we no longer have this hanging over us. Thank God it has gone, and thank you all for your answers x
i am in the same situation as your partner i made the same big mistake.
my partner retracted her statement but this was not brought to the magistrates attention on the day. now it has beeen reffered to crown court and my partner does'nt want to proceed and wants it all dropped.
it would be really great if it was possible to talk to you via other means ???? HELP

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