Tips for Witnesses in Criminal Cases
Before the Hearing
- Remember, you do not have to discuss this case with anyone unless you want to. If you are unsure about who is speaking to you, contact the Deputy District Attorney who is handling your case. The District Attorney’s Office Phone Number is 775-751-7080.
- If you have small children, please make arrangements for childcare before coming to court.
- Know that proper attire is required in court. No shorts or tank tops. Shoes must be worn. You may want to bring a sweater or jacket in the event the courtroom is cold.
- Plan to bring a book or magazine to read in case there is a wait prior to being called to testify.
- Review the case in your mind a day to two before your court date. Visualizing the incident will help you recall details you may have forgotten.
At the Hearing
- Listen carefully to each question and wait until the question is finished before giving an answer.
- Relax, and tell the truth as best as you can remember it.
- Take your time. Pauses before your answers indicate that you are taking the question seriously and thinking before speaking.
- Remember to breathe deeply to help relax.
- Speak loudly and clearly. Your testimony is useless unless you are heard.
- Do not volunteer information. You only need to answer the questions asked of you.
- After you are asked a question and you hear an attorney say “Objection,” do not answer until you are told to answer.
- If you do not understand a question, it is all right to ask that the question be repeated or clarified.
- If you do not know an answer, say so. Do not give attorneys answers you think they want.
- If you do not remember, say you don’t remember - not that you do not know.
- Do not guess if you are not sure, unless you are instructed to give an estimate.
- If you make mistakes in answering, correct yourself as soon as you realize your mistake.
- If you feel like crying, you may; this is a natural reaction.
- Do not lose your temper, even if you feel angered by the questions. Stay calm even if the attorney seems rude or makes you angry. Do not argue with the attorney.
- Do not discuss the case in halls, restrooms, or anywhere you could be overheard. Your behavior out of the courtroom is as important as your behavior in the courtroom.