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Receiving a witness summons - consequences of not attending Court

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Where you are a victim in a prosecution, if you make the decision you no longer wish to pursue the case, the Prosecution can apply for a witness summons. A witness is not obliged to attend court unless a witness summons has been served. 

So what is a witness summons?

A witness summons is an order made by the Court summonsing you to attend court for the purposes of giving evidence in a criminal case. The Prosecution have to apply to the Court for a witness summons to be issued.

Section 97 of the Magistrates Courts Act 1980 provides a witness summons will only be granted if: 

  • The court is satisfied that the witness is likely to give material evidence; and 
  • It is in the interests of justice to do so. 

Implications of not attending Court?

If you fail to attend Court after a witness summons has been served upon you, the risk is you could be arrested and brought before the Court. If at Court you then refuse to give evidence, you could be charged with Contempt of Court.

Contempt of Court Sentencing?

Section 14 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 provides for a maximum period of imprisonment of 2 years in the Crown Court. The maximum penalty in the magistrates’ court is one month’s imprisonment or a fine up to £2,500.

Here at Johnson Astills we provide expert legal advice, should you find yourself summons to Court as a witness please contact our offices who will be able to advise you further. Legal aid may be available for your case at the Magistrates’ and Crown Court. For clients which do not qualify for legal aid, we offer affordable fixed fees for appointments and representation.

Johnson Astills are experts in criminal law, and are able to assist 24 hours of the day whether at the police station or at Court. If you need advice or assistance from the criminal department at Johnson Astills , please contact us on 0116 255 4855.

To discuss any offences please contact our Criminal Defence Team at Johnson Astills at our Leicester Office or Loughborough Office on 0800 059 0600.