What should a witness know before appearing in court?

  • Always tell the truth. Do not guess or make up an answer. If you are asked about little details which you do not remember, it is best to say ” I do not remember”.
  • Answer all questions directly. Answer only the question that is asked. If you can answer with a “yes” or “no”, do so. If you do not understand a question, Feel free to have the question repeated or explained.
  • Speak clearly and distinctly. The juror farthest from you should be able to hear you.
  • Be Attentive. Remain alert at all times so that you can hear, understand and give a proper response to each question. Avoid trying to “second guess” the questioner. The prosecutor will develop the evidence through your testimony and will object to any improper questioning by the defense during cross examination.
  • DO NOT LOSE YOUR TEMPER. Losing your temper during cross examination means losing your credibility. Anger will lessen your recall ability and may cause you to make incorrect statements.
  • Dress Conservatively and be Courteous. The jury knows nothing of you except for the impression that you make with your testimony and with you appearance. Wear clothing that will not distract the judge or jury from your testimony.
  • Bring family and friends. You will only be present in the courtroom for your testimony and the closing arguments. This is to insure that the testimony of one witness will not influence that of another, and is called “invoking the rule”. The support of friends and family is helpful at this time, although they cannot relate to you what happened in the courtroom until after the trial is over. A coordinator from the Victim Witness Program will also accompany you if called at 755-6655. Remember, the Victim Waiting Room offers a separate and secure area in which you may wait for your turn to testify.
  • Be aware that the defendant will be in the courtroom at all times and you will be asked to identify him. This is easier to deal with if you prepare beforehand.
  • Take a positive attitude with you. It is not a good idea to go into trial with revenge on your mind, as no amount of punishment for the defendant can atone for what you have gone through. By going through the ordeal of testifying you have shown a great deal of courage and concern for others by hopefully preventing this crime from happening to another person.
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