Why am I a witness? I didn't see the crime occur.
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 Attorney does.
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 in 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?
What if my employer won't let me come to court?
How do I contact the Witness and/or Victim Unit?
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 subpoena?
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 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 change anything?
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?