If you need additional information, please call the Witness
Assistance Hotline at (269) 969-6947 or (800) 245-9361. You may
also call the Victim Assistance Hotline at (269) 969-6944.
Why am I a witness? I didn’t see the crime occur.
Witnesses are not limited to "eye witnesses." You may not have seen
or heard the crime happen, but may still know something about it. You
may also know something about a piece of evidence, something about
someone involved in the case, or something that contradicts another
You may not think that what you know about the case is very
significant; however, small pieces of information are often required to
determine what really happened. If you wonder "why" you are testifying
in a particular case, ask the Assistant Prosecutor handling it (or one
of our Witness Coordinators); there is probably a common-sense reason.
Your presence and willingness to testify may be the deciding factor
in determining what will be done in the case. Many defendants hope that
you or other witnesses will not show up. Your mere presence at the
Courthouse before the trial may cause the defendant to plead guilty.
What if someone threatens me?
Concerns about your well-being and safety after being victimized or
witnessing a crime are normal. If you have any fears or receive any
threats concerning your involvement in a case, you should immediately
contact the law enforcement agency that investigated the case, or the
Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. In an emergency situation, call 911. Do
so as soon as possible so that the threats can be documented and
appropriate action taken. There are laws to protect you against people
who attempt to bribe, intimidate, threaten, or harass you. What if the
defense attorney contacts me?
In representing a client, a defense attorney may contact you and want
to talk to you about the case. Keep in mind that you do not have to talk
to anyone about the crime, including the defense attorney or their
investigator prior to testifying in court. If you choose to do so,
always request proper identification and an explanation of the purpose
of the interview. Afterward, please inform the Assistant Prosecutor
handling the case. If you have any concerns about talking with a defense
attorney or their investigator, you are encouraged to contact the
Assistant Prosecutor in charge of your case and to have him/her with you
at the time of the interview.
Do I have to testify in front of the defendant?
The defendant must be present in court to hear what all the witnesses
say about him. The lawyer for the defendant is called the defense
attorney and will ask you questions after the Assistant Prosecuting
Who will be with me in court?
You may bring friends or relatives with you to court, and they can
probably sit in the courtroom while you testify, unless they are also
witnesses. (Witnesses testify one at a time and generally wait outside
the courtroom for their turn. This is called "sequestration"). One of
our Victim Advocates may also be with you, if you request.
How long will I be at court?
Your court room time, while actually testifying, may not take long;
it depends upon many factors. Most of the time you will just be waiting
for your turn to testify. You and your family and friends are encouraged
to bring a book or magazine to read while you wait. How many times will
I have to appear in court?
No one can tell in advance how many times or how long you will have
to be in court. The process of justice takes time. The number of times
you may be called to appear in court and the delays you may encounter
are the result of many factors, including pre-trial motions or other
scheduled events with your case, or congestion on the judge’s court
In general, your first and only appearance for misdemeanor offenses
will be for the actual trial. In a felony case, the first time you
appear as a witness may be for the preliminary examination. On rare
occasions, pre-trial motions by the defense attorney or by the
prosecuting attorney may require additional hearings before the trial
begins, which may require witness testimony.
What if my employer won’t let me come to court?
If you are lawfully subpoenaed to court, an employer cannot prevent
court attendance. When appropriate, our Witness Unit will contact your
employer to discuss the importance of your role as a witness. We can
also provide you with a note, on our letterhead, confirming the
days/hours when you were in court.
How do I contact the Witness and/or Victim Unit?
Our Witness Unit (Joyce Shaffer or Shannon Duffey) can be contacted at
(269) 969-6947 or (800) 254-9361. Our Victim Unit’s number is (269)
Can I get witness fees whether or not I attend on the date(s) stated
in the subpoena? What if I can’t attend on the date stated in the
Whether a witness receives any witness fee is within the discretion
of the court. A court can order that you receive witness fees ($6 per
morning or afternoon court session that you are ordered to attend), plus
mileage ($0.10 per mile, round trip). If you have a date conflict, you
should contact our Witness Unit (Joyce Shaffer or Shannon Duffey)
immediately to discuss your conflict. In some cases, the
Prosecuting Attorney handling the case can put you "on call" (so that
you can go to work or school on the day you are subpoenaed, and you will
be called at a pre-arranged phone number an hour or so before you are
needed in court). Witnesses receive witness fees and mileage only when
they appear in court at the scheduled time. You will not receive a
witness fee or mileage if your case (or your individual appearance) was
"called off" or if you do not appear.
How do I know if my case has been "called off?"
Call our Witness Hotline at
(269) 969-6947 anytime, but especially the night before you are
supposed to appear.
I was subpoenaed by the defendant, not the prosecutor. Does this
Our Witness Unit helps the witnesses that the Prosecutor’s Office
subpoenas to court, not witnesses whom the defendant subpoenas.
What if I need an interpreter?
Foreign language interpreters and interpreters for the hearing and/or
speech impaired are available. If you are in need of interpreting
services while in attendance at court, contact the Victim/Witness Unit
as soon as possible.