How to avoid testifying in court

Updated March 23, 2017

If you have been subpoenaed to appear in a court of law to testify in a case, you should take this seriously. Having to testify can be a frightening prospect and some people would prefer to get out of the responsibility. You cannot simply refuse to appear in court; that could cause you be held in contempt of court. But there are valid excuses for not appearing to testify that the court may find reasonable.

Get your doctor to write a note to the court. This applies if you have a serious illness, are scheduled for surgery during the dates of your scheduled court appearance or have suffered a debilitating injury. Your doctor will have to write a note to the court, detailing the specifics of your condition and attaching his signature.

Make the court aware of extenuating circumstances that will cause a hardship for you. These could include situations, such as being the sole caregiver for an adult family member or child. You must contact the court to let them know about your situation and provide proof to corroborate your claims.

Let the court know about any emergency situation that may have arisen that will make you unable to appear in court. Reasons such as a family medical emergency, the death of an immediate family member or an accident would all be considered valid excuses. As expected, adequate proof must be presented to the court.

Write a personal letter to the court if you feel that testifying in a case may endanger you. If, for example, you are being asked to testify in a criminal case and feel that your doing so would cause you and/or your family to be put in jeopardy, explain this in your letter. It may be that the judge will excuse you from testifying.

Call your lawyer for help. This may be necessary if none of the previous reasons apply to you. He may not be able to help you totally avoid having to testify, but he may be able to come up with ways to postpone the date of the court case.


Understand that legitimate proof must be provided to the court for any request to be excused from testifying. Realise that the court may still require you to appear in court to testify, in which case you must follow through on your responsibility.


Do not wait until the last minute to make a request to the court for being excused from having to testify.

Things You'll Need

  • Medical excuse
  • Proof of special circumstances
  • Emergency situation
  • Personal letter regarding possible threats
  • Lawyer assistance
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author