For most people, involvement in a legal case is an inevitability to prepare for. In some cases, it might be a legal case you’re making against someone or defending yourself against allegations. But what about when you are called as a witness in a case, criminal or otherwise? We don’t speak as often about what you should do as a witness, but if you’re feeling nervous or unsure about how to proceed, here are a few tips that can help you feel more confident and sure of what to do.
Witnesses are called into court by the legal team representing one or both sides of the case. In most cases, you are going to be contacted by the legal representation and given the date. You should ensure that you take the time to prepare for your court appearance. You might need to take any time off work and you can claim lost income if necessary. You can also claim money if you need to pay for childcare. There aren’t any rules for how to dress in court, but you should try to dress smartly but in clothes that are comfortable, as you can spend a long time in court. If there are any other concerns about reaching or accessing the court, you should contact the building directly to get advice on getting there.
Ensure you’re giving the best testimony that you can
As a witness, your primary responsibility is to answer questions as best and as accurately as you can. You’re not there to give conjecture, to estimate motives, or offer anything other than the facts that you are asked for. It can be tough for people to appropriately limit their own speech to make sure that they’re not saying anything unnecessary or to make sure that they’re recalling truthfully, so it can help to learn a range of giving evidence skills through witness training sessions that are available to you. You won’t get coached on what to say, but you can make sure that you give the statements that you want to give with confidence and ease.
Don’t talk about the trial outside of the trial
Unlike members of the jury, witnesses are not kept within a confidential process. You’re not explicitly barred from talking about the trial but most lawyers would agree that it’s wise not to talk too much about it, especially on social media. Accidentally posting potentially incriminating evidence, painting a target on yourself for harassment, and confusing the trial, are all things that could happen if you’re not disciplined about keeping the process of the trial to yourself. There is, of course, the urge to talk to close family members or friends about it, but you should try to be responsible in everything you say.
Being a witness in court can certainly be nerve-wracking, but it doesn’t have to be something that you should be too worried about. With the tips above, you can make sure that you’re doing your duty, staying legally safe, and avoiding any difficulty.
Note: This is a collaborative post