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Being a Witness in Court

If you were the victim of a crime or a witness to a crime, you may be asked to be a witness in court. When you come to court, you should bring your subpoena and show this to the person listed on the subpoena.
You will be asked to sit in the courtroom, perhaps with other witnesses. The court officer will call your name when it is your turn to testify. You may need to wait a long time before it is your turn to testify. However, the Victim Service Program staff will try to keep you updated on what is going on.

Before you testify, you will be asked to agree that you promise to tell the truth. If you are a witness for the prosecution, the DA will ask you about the case and what you remember. The defense attorney will then ask you some questions.

You should always say exactly what you remember. If you cannot remember, you should say that. When the lawyers have finished asking their questions, the judge or DA will let you know when you can leave.
Most witnesses come into the court building through the main public door. If you are particularly concerned about entering the court building or being in the same room as someone else in the case, it may be possible in some courts for the Victim Service Program staff or court official to arrange to meet you at a private entrance and let you wait in a different room. Arrangements can sometimes be made in advance and everyone will do their best to help, although it is not possible to guarantee that you will not meet or see people involved in the case during the course of the trial.

There might also be special measures that could be available to help vulnerable witnesses, including children.  Many witnesses will not require using special measures but may benefit from other forms of support, which is something the Victim Service Program staff can assist you with.

Most people feel better about being a witness if they know what to expect and have visited the court beforehand. If you are called as a witness, the Victim Service Program staff can give you help and support. The Victim Service Program staff can answer questions of a general nature about what happens at court and can also arrange a court familiarization visit for you.