Being the witness to a crime is an intimidating position to be in.
It takes a lot of courage to come forth as a witness, especially when you are called to testify about what you saw or heard.
Witnesses are called upon because they hold an account of events that are important to a case, and they have information that cannot be gotten from any other source.
Here are some things you should know and do as a witness to a crime:
You do not have a legal duty to report (Except for Child Abuse and a few other crimes)
It may be difficult for you to report a crime you witnessed to the police. The law does not usually require a witness of a crime to call the police or speak with the responding officer.
If you want your personal information to remain anonymous, you can request so.
You are not obligated to speak to an attorney or a detective.
At some point in an investigation, you may be contacted by a lawyer or detective via phone call or email to speak about the case following the events you witnessed.
You may speak or meet with them, but are not obligated to do so, unless you have received a subpoena (a court order that summons you to court).
What to do if summoned for a deposition or a trial
When you receive a subpoena, the first thing to do is to hire an attorney. In the case of a deposition, you can request your lawyer to quash or make void the subpoena.
If you choose otherwise, you will need to be present for questioning under oath in the presence of a judge or magistrate and an attorney from the prosecution and defense.
>> If summoned as a witness for a hearing, you must attend the hearing and testify unless you choose to plead the Fifth.
If you are worried about being forced to testify as a witness, you should seek the services of an experienced defense attorney who will hold your hand through the legal proceedings.