Florida law allows the office of the state attorney to issue subpoenas for investigative purposes pursuant to Florida Statute chapter 27. When such a subpoena is issued, it commands the presence of the individual involved. Because there may be Fifth Amendment issues (self-incrimination) Florida Statute 914.04 holds that the individual subpoenaed to give testimony is afforded “use immunity” thereby protecting anything said to the office of the state attorney from being used against them. In theory, this is all very understandable. Moral issues arise, however, when prosecutors issue subpoenas to family members to give testimony against other family members. This is particularly egregious when a daughter or son is being investigated for capital murder where the death penalty may be given and parents are being subpoenaed to give testimony that might result in a criminal conviction and a sentence of death. Although the law may allow the state to command the presence of citizens to give testimony in a criminal investigation, every effort should be made by that office to secure alternative evidence against the suspect rather than resort to a subpoena issued to a parent who then is called upon to make a choice between their government and their child. In the words of the writer E. M. Forster, “if I had the choice between betraying my country or betraying my friend, I hope I would have the guts to betray my country.”  Now substitute “child” for “friend.”

About the author : kexworks