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What should I expect in a trial court date as a witness?

Kent, WA |

I have been subpoenaed as a witness in a trial hearing coming up as the only witness in a telephone felony harassment case . And I would really like to know what to expect in this situation . Any details or advice ? I really am uncomfortable in crowds due to severe social anxiety and panic attacks . I just need to know what to expect at the very least . I've never been in this situation before . I am in a relationship with the Defendant and The State is who subpoenaed me to testify on their behalf , when I'm actually defending him in two prior statements . His Public Defender hasn't called me ever , only his assistant to take a statement via phone ( recorded ) . I read on line that as a witness you cant be in the court room during the trial , only afterwards . . . ? Please give me any detail you can . Thank

Attorney Answers 4

  1. Best answer

    Very generally, what you have described sounds normal. Defense attorneys often have investigators conduct interviews for them. If you have concerns about testifying, you are encouraged to speak to an attorney of your own choosing to discuss any issues regarding the subpoena process.
    If you contact the prosecutor's office, they will tell you the exact date and time that they expect you to testify, though of course this can vary if the trial date is moved. When you arrive in court, your testimony could take any where from a few minutes to a few hours, depending on the case. The prosecutor who is conducting the trial will likely speak to you immediately before you testify. When you testify, there will probably be about 20 people in the courtroom, consisting of the Judge, clerk, bailiff, prosecuting attorney, defense attorney, Defendant, and 13-14 jurors. There may also be a jail guard or sheriff in the room. There may also be some members of the public in the audience, but often times nobody else is there.
    If you have particular issues, such as anxiety and panic attacks, I would encourage you to inform both the prosecutor and the Judge (outside of the presence of the jury) to determine if there is any way that the Court can make the situation more comfortable for you--but there are no guarantees.
    And yes, as a witness, you are generally not allowed to watch any of the trial proceedings until after all of the testimony is given, or unless the court specifically gives you permission (which would be almost unheard of).
    I practice regularly in Superior Court in Kent and Seattle. Please feel free to contact me directly at no charge for further information.

  2. You will not be in the court room for the entire proceeding, just when you testify. This is so your testimony is only connected in your mind with what happened. You will not be listening to the any other witness. When you are asked questions, answer only the question asked. Don't talk and talk and talk. Do you best to listen to the question and state what happened. Tell the truth and everything will be fine.

  3. Sounds like you have been getting good advice. I'd just add a few things. You will have to wait in the hallway until you are called into the courtroom. Most likely, you will simply be asked the same questions you have already been asked and answered. It will be redundant. Real trials are not what they appear to be on TV; not as dramatic at all. Unless its a high profile case, the courtroom will not have very many people. Just remember to think about your answers before answering, don't just blurt them out, and take deep breaths to stay calm and relaxed. Answer clearly so that everyone can hear you and speak confidently. Tell the truth obviously, but realize that the attorneys are going to make sure what you say on the witness stand matches what you already told them in the statements, so don't change your story. If there are inconsistencies, the attorneys are going to notice and ask you about them, hence why you were recorded, but regardless stick with the truth.

  4. You will probably be asked to wait outside until it is your turn to testify.

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