Importance of a Subpoena
A subpoena is a court order directing you to be present at the time and location stated. Disobedience of a subpoena may result in your arrest for contempt and may be punished by fine, imprisonment, or both. Generally you will have received a subpoena because your name appeared in a police report as either a victim or a witness to a crime. You may receive your subpoena in person or by mail. After receipt of the subpoena, please contact the District Attorney’s Office by calling the number in the middle of your subpoena. When you call please have your subpoena available or know the District Attorney’s case number or the defendant’s name.
Court hearings do not always take place at the precise time scheduled. Calendar conflicts, the unavailability of an essential witness, or a legal motion may cause your case to be delayed or continued. Whenever possible, arrangements will be made to place you “on-call.” This means that you may continue your normal daily business, but you must be able to come to court immediately when called by the District Attorney’s Office. You can only be placed "on call" by the Witness Coordinator or the Attorney assigned to the case, you must call the District Attorney's office for this arrangement to be made.
Tips for Testifying
It is very natural for you to be nervous when testifying. Here are some tips that will help you to control your nervousness and make your testimony clearer:
- Always tell the truth.
- If you don't know the answer, say so. Do not guess or speculate.
- Speak clearly and loud enough so everyone can hear your answer.
- Listen closely to the attorney's question and pause a moment to consider your answer before speaking.
- If you don't understand the question, tell the attorney.
- Verbally answer questions with "yes" or "no" rather than nodding or shaking your head. Non-verbal responses cannot be transcribed by the court reporter.
- Answer only the question asked. Don't give additional information until asked.
- Be respectful to the attorneys and the judge. Don't argue; just truthfully answer the question to the best of your ability.
- If you hear the word "objection" from an attorney, stop your answer and wait until the judge directs you to continue or discontinue your answer.
- Court testimony is a solemn and serious duty. Please dress appropriately.
You may be contacted by a defense attorney or defense investigator. You should know that you are not obligated to speak to anyone. Before you speak to anyone concerning a criminal matter you should request to see identification. If you receive such a request you may discuss it with the Deputy District Attorney responsible for your case. This is your decision and you should not feel pressured to speak or not to speak to anyone about the case. If you choose to speak to the defense attorney, you may wish to have an additional person present or a tape recording made to avoid later misunderstandings and misquotations.