Suggestions for Witnesses

CALL AHEAD: Victims and witnesses are encouraged to call the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office the business day before a hearing is scheduled to assure that the hearing is still scheduled.

WAITING: It is not always easy or glamorous to be a witness in a criminal case. Frequently, cases are set at the same time or very close together, so it is not unusual that you may have to wait before you are called to testify. There may also be times when the case in which you are to testify will be continued, or postponed without your knowledge or after you have already waited to testify. In many cases the prosecuting attorney has no way of knowing how long you may have to wait or whether you case will be continued. It is important that you come prepared to wait and with the understanding that your case may not be resolved on the day you come to court. It is not a bad idea to bring a snack along and a book or magazine to read while you wait.

HOW TO DRESS: It is not important that you wear your best clothes to court as it is for you to be comfortable; however, a neat appearance makes a positive impression on those who evaluate your testimony.

HOW TO TESTIFY: The most important thing for you to do as a witness in any case is to tell the truth. The easiest way to do this is to listen to the questions asked of you and answer them the best you can. If you don’t know, say so. If you don’t understand the question, ask to have it repeated. If an attorney objects, stop and wait until you are instructed to testify again. Do not volunteer information. Try not to get upset or angry with either the prosecuting attorney or the defense attorney – it will not help your testimony and may prolong it. The best witnesses are witnesses who are fair. Don’t try to hide anything or tell more than you know. Look at the jury or judge hearing the case and speak loudly enough for the judge, jury and attorneys to hear. When your testimony is over, don’t leave the courtroom until you have been dismissed from your subpoena. NEVER discuss your testimony with another witness in the case who is waiting to testify.