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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 24893
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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My sister in law is part of a domestic abuse case. She might

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My sister in law is part of a domestic abuse case. She might be called as a witness in the case against her husband. Her husbands family wants us to have her in our home so that she will not attend the trial. We are worried that we will be held liable for hiding a witness. Is this possible ? How much of a legal risk are we in to allow our sister in law to stay with us ?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 7 years ago.
Customer

Your instincts are correct. This would be a criminal offense. Broadly speaking, it would be obstruction of justice. Looking over the Masschusetts Statutes you could be charged with Disruption of Court Proceedings which is a misdemeanor carrying a penalty of a fine of up to $1,000 and up to a year of jail.

If your sister in law wants to risk a charge of contempt of court by ignoring a subpoena and doesn't want to stay in her house, tell her to get a hotel room and stay out of this.

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This thread will not close and you can always use it to get clarification.This is informational only and is NOT legal advice. There is no attorney-client relationship. You are advised to consult an attorney in your state for specific legal advice.
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Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Thank you FranL. Appreciate your quick reply. We have one doubt: the trail hasnt started and the subopoena have not been issued yet. Since the tail has not started, is it riskly to allow her to stay in our home. Please note that my Sister in law lives in Wakusha county in WI and we live in MA.
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 7 years ago.
It's certainly not risky to have your sister-in-law visit. The problem would only be, as you see from the statute, if you actively participate in disrupting court proceedings. As long as you don't know about any subpoena, assuming you could be charged with this offense (I hadn't realized you were out of state) you couldn't be convicted of it.

She, on the other hand, can be arrested for criminal contempt as well as disrupting court proceedings. I don't know that this will happen to her, of course. Some complainants who change their minds and stop cooperating with the state get by with it, and the case just gets dismissed if the prosecutor can't make out the case without her. But the more serious the charges are, the more likely the state will try to find her and haul her into court to testify at trial, particularly if the case is on the verge of trial, and she's been cooperating with the state until now. If that turns into a warrant for her arrest once they can't find her, then if you're hiding her from the authorities, you are harboring a fugitive.
_____

If I've helped, please click the green Accept button so I can get credit for my work.

This thread will not close and you can always use it to get clarification.This is informational only and is NOT legal advice. There is no attorney-client relationship. You are advised to consult an attorney in your state for specific legal advice.

Zoey_ JD and other Criminal Law Specialists are ready to help you