Being a Witness

The following material is reproduced from the manual You're Going to be a Witness. What Now?, produced by the State Bar of Michigan.

You're a Witness - Now What

Someday you may be called as a witness in a court proceeding. You may have seen a car accident or witnessed a crime, or you may be directly involved in a trial. You may be appearing voluntarily or, in some cases, you may be served with a subpoena summoning you to appear in court. You have to obey a subpoena or suffer legal penalties.

Whether you are required to appear or do so voluntarily, you should cooperate and take the job seriously. Your testimony will be important to a fair and just trial.

Suggestions

These suggestions may help when you appear as a witness:

  1. Always Tell the Truth
  2. Be Attentive
  3. Be on Time
  4. Be Presentable
  5. Correct Any Mistakes
  6. Do Not Guess
  7. Do Not Talk out of Turn
  8. Do Not Volunteer Anything
  9. Don’t Argue
  10. Speak Clearly
  11. Speak to the Jury
  12. Stay Cool
  13. Your Responsibility

Every court case is a search for the truth, for what happened. As a witness, you are under oath. You are expected to tell the truth always, to the best of your knowledge. The penalties for untruthful testimony are severe.

As a witness, you are an essential part of the trial. It may be very inconvenient for you to take time off and come to court and testify, but remember that the day may come when you need someone to appear as a witness on your behalf, to help you protect your rights under the law.