Crime Victims Now Have Constitutional Rights

Testifying in Court: Helpful Guidelines from a Marsy’s Law Lawyer

June 9, 2015

Testifying in Court: Helpful Guidelines from a Marsy's Law Lawyer

Testifying in Court: Guidelines to Assist You as a Witness

Testifying in court as a witness can be an intimidating experience, especially if you are the victim of the crime. However, an experienced Marsy’s law lawyer by your side can help during the process of testifying. Your lawyer can help you to understand what is involved in the process of testifying and give you guidelines to help direct you as a witness. The guidelines will help you understand what your rights are, what to do when you receive a subpoena, how to handle yourself as a witness, and what may happen when you are cross-examined.

Understanding Your Rights as a Witness

As a witness, you play an important role in the courtroom. Your testimony helps in the quest for truth and justice. As a witness, you do have legal rights as well.

  • The court should provide a private waiting area for you until it is your time to testify. This area should be away from the witnesses for the defense.
  • Unless directed by the court, it is not necessary to disclose your personal information such as address or employment information.
  • Your employer is not allowed to penalize you for having to testify in court. Your employer cannot dismiss or discipline you for testifying.

It is illegal for a witness to be intimidated to not testify or report a crime through threats of force, violence, coercion, or any other form of dissuasion. Contact your Marsy’s law lawyer immediately if you have experienced any threats for your testimony.

What to Do When You Receive a Subpoena

A subpoena is an official request for you to appear in court. Ignoring a subpoena is illegal and can result in penalties if you fail to appear.

  • Carefully read the subpoena you received. It will give you instructions as what is expected from you. The subpoena will provide a time and place for you to appear. It may also require you to bring an item with you. If it does, then the request will be listed under a category called “duces tecum”.
  • You may be requested to appear in the prosecutors office at some point. Verify the address of the office and do not miss the appointment.
  • Be sure to contact the prosecutor’s office with any changes in your contact information.
  • Take the subpoena to court with you. A state representative will be required to sign off on your subpoena. Be sure to read your Subpoena thoroughly. You may be entitled for reimbursement of certain expenses. Keep all your receipts for things such as meals, your mileage, loss wages, and child care during the time.

What Happens Before You Go to Court

  • Be sure to review any formal statements you have given officials in the past.
  • Go over what you would like to say in court but do not try to memorize it. Instead try to picture the event and testify from your recollections.
  • Dress appropriately for your appearance.

Testifying Guidelines

  • Be as confident as possible in your presence and words.
  • Be prepared to be sworn in to tell the truth.
  • Since you are testifying for the prosecution, they will be questioning your first.
  • Be sure to fully understand the question asked before you start to answer it. It is okay to stop and think before answering a question. If you do not understand, ask the person to repeat the question.
  • Be sure to speak clearly and loudly. The judge, jury, attorneys, and court reporters will need to be able to hear your answers.
  • Be sure that whatever you say is factual. Do not give your opinion or assumptions as a response.
  • If you are not able to answer the question, do not be afraid to say so.
  • If you are judging or estimating a distance or number of something, be sure to declare that your answer is an estimation, not factual.
  • Answer questions with a solid “yes” or “no” if you are able to. Elaborate when the question calls for it. Tell the attorney who is questioning you that you feel the answer is more elaborate than a “yes” or “no.”
  • If there is an objection to a question you were asked, do not answer until the judge says otherwise or the question is phrased differently.

Cross-Examination by Defense Attorney

  • Stay calm during questioning.
  • Do not be afraid to ask the defense to repeat their question.
  • Be honest in your responses.
  • Do not be baited into an argument with the defense attorney.
  • When complete, do not discuss your testimony with anyone else.

Contact a Local Marsy’s Law Lawyer Today

The Law Office of Michael Fell has an experienced Marsy’s law lawyer who can help you through the process of testifying as well as advise you of your rights in court. Call (877) 262-2430 today.