If you are asked to produce evidence in a criminal case, you must comply and failure to appear may result in contempt of court charges and arrest warrants. If you have a medical emergency that you must deal with, or other unusual circumstances that prevent you from testifying in court, you should contact the court as soon as possible and explain the situation.
You may be asked to testify whether you have seen, heard, or participated in any way in connection with the incident. You may also be asked to testify as an expert, such as a doctor, about the evidence presented.
Read over your statement
If you were a witness for the prosecution, you would have told the police everything you remember about what happened. If you are a witness for the defense, you have probably made statements to the defense. Before you go to court, reread your statement and remember what happened. Try to recall as many details as possible, such as dates, times, names, and words spoken.
Remember not to share your evidence with other witnesses. Prosecutors and defense attorneys may ask you to speak before you make a statement. If you think something is missing or wrong in your statement, let them know.
Dress neatly and neatly for the court. Before entering the court, make sure your cell phone is turned off and remove all hats and sunglasses from your head. Bow or nod to the judge when entering and leaving the courtroom.
Oath or affirmation
When you are asked to testify, you will be asked to swear or vouch. Whether you are taking an oath or giving a guarantee, you have the same obligation to be as truthful as possible in your statements.
If you believe in God, you can take a religious oath, swearing on the Bible that the evidence you give is true. You can also make your vows in another script, such as the Quran.
For non-religious people, affirmations can be made instead of swearing. Affirmations are secular promises to tell the truth.
When children testify, they may be asked to promise to tell the truth without formal oath or endorsement. Children are effective witnesses if they can tell the difference between truth and lies. This can be determined by asking questions appropriate to the child’s age and maturity.
If you are a vulnerable witness. For example, victims of sexual assault and people with intellectual disabilities may be able to get additional help to make it easier for them to testify in court. This may include having someone accompany you during your testimony, or allowing you to testify from another room or behind a partition so you don’t have to meet the accused.
If you feel you need to be treated as a vulnerable witness, talk to the prosecutor (or the defense if they call you). The court will decide whether you should be treated as a vulnerable witness and how your needs should be met.
Giving evidence in court
When you testify in court, you will be questioned by both the prosecution and the defense. First, you will be asked to submit a proctor. You will then be questioned. You must answer honestly and as completely as possible. If you don’t understand a question or don’t remember something, it’s okay to say so. You can take as long as you need to answer. Speak clearly and calmly when you testify in court.
There are strict rules about what questions a witness can be asked in a criminal case. For example, you may not solicit opinions unless it is a public issue. You cannot ask for testimony of improper hearsay. If a defense attorney or prosecutor asks a question that might violate these rules, the other party may object. This means that your arguments may be interrupted while the attorney presents the court with what kinds of questions to allow or disallow.
When you have finished your testimony in court, you will be asked to leave the witness stand. You can then leave the courtroom or visitor can watch the rest of the hearing from the gallery.
If you need legal assistance with a criminal case or other legal matter, please contact Dot Legal Lawyers.