If you are a witness in a criminal case, we would like to take this opportunity to familiarize you with the proceedings in order to minimize any apprehension or inconvenience you may experience as a result of being called to appear.
Usually, you as a victim, will have been required to sign a formal complaint, under oath, that becomes
part of the arrest warrant charging the accused with committing a crime. By signing and verifying the
complaint, you have indicated your willingness to appear as a witness to testify in Court if necessary.
A complaint charging someone with a criminal offense should never be signed with the idea of asking the District Attorney to dismiss the charge(s) at a later date. If you have any doubts concerning your further participation in the prosecution of a case, you should contact the District Attorney’s Office and discuss the matter with us. If you are the victim of a crime, it is NOT necessary for you to hire an attorney to represent you in the criminal prosecution of the case. You are not considered a party, but rather a witness for the state, and will be represented at trial by the District Attorney.
Concerns about your well being and safety after being victimized or witnessing a crime are normal. If
you have any fears or receive any threats concerning your involvement in a case, you should immediately contact your local law enforcement agency. There are laws to protect you against people who attempt to bribe, intimidate, threaten, or harass you.
If you are going to testify about records, familiarize yourself with them before the hearing or trial.
Do not try to memorize what you will say in court, but try to recall just what you observed at the time of the incident.
If you have been summoned by subpoena, BRING IT TO COURT WITH YOU. The subpoena will
provide information on when and where to appear.
The trial of a criminal case is a serious matter. While in the courthouse, conduct yourself in a dignified manner.
A neat appearance and conservative dress are appropriate for the courtroom. Dress such as you might to go to church on Sunday or a similar occasion.
Do not be nervous; there is no reason to be.
You will be asked to take an oath to tell the truth. Remember the seriousness of this oath during the entire time you are testifying. If you willfully fail to tell the truth while testifying, you will be subject to criminal penalties for perjury. ALWAYS tell the truth as you know it to be.
If asked whether you have discussed the case with anyone, you should indicate any occasion that you have talked with the prosecutor, the defense lawyer, or anyone else.
When answering questions, speak clearly so you will be heard and understood. The court reporter must hear and record your answers; therefore, do not respond by shaking your head “yes” or “no.” Listen carefully to the questions. Before you answer, make sure you understand what has been asked. If you do not understand, ask that the question be repeated or rephrased.
Do not give your personal opinions or conclusions when answering questions unless specifically asked to do so. Give only the facts as you know them, without guessing or speculating. If you do not know, say you do not know. There is nothing wrong with this.
If you realize you have answered a question incorrectly, ask the judge if you may correct your error.
If the judge interrupts or an attorney objects to your answer, stop answering immediately. Likewise, if an attorney objects to a question, do not begin your answer until the judge tells you to do so.
Be polite while answering the question. Do not lose your temper with the attorney questioning you. Remember, you are testifying for the benefit of the jury, not the attorneys.
You should NEVER attempt to talk to a jury about the case or any other matter while the case is being tried. This includes chance meetings during recesses, in hallways, at lunch, or any other place.
Appearing as a witness is an obligation which every person can discharge with a conviction that he/she is making a valuable contribution to the society in which he/she lives. We recognize that fulfilling this obligation may cause you inconvenience, but we will do everything possible to minimize this inconvenience as much as possible.
Our Victim Service Officers are available to help you in any way possible during your service as a
witness. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We appreciate your cooperation.