RCASA’s Friday Facts: Sexual Assault and the Criminal Justice Process Pt. 3

In Advocacy on September 16, 2011 at 6:00 am

Testifying in Court

Before testifying in court, the victim will receive a subpoena (an order to appear in court). Here are a few suggestions on preparing to testify as a witness. If the victim wants to visit the courtroom before the trial, encourage her to contact the prosecutor assigned to the case.

Tips for crime victims on testifying in court

  • When trying to decide what to wear, it is important to be comfortable, but you should dress respectfully for the court. Your choice of clothes will make an impression on the jury. Think about how you want the judge and jury to percieve you.
  • It might be helpful to plan to have other support persons (family members or friends) with you while you are waiting to testify. They do not have to be in the courtroom while you testify. If you do not want them in the courtroom at that time, tell them in advance.
  • Try to be early to give yourself extra time and to avoid additional stress.
  • When your name is called to testify, take a slow, calming breath and remind yourself that you are strong and will be just fine.
  • Speak up clearly, especially if there is no microphone.
  • Always tell the truth to the best of your memory.
  • If you don’t understand a question, tell the attorney before answering.
  • Pause when there is an objection and wait for the judge’s response.
  • Only answer the specific question you have been asked, don’t elaborate.
  • If you can, try to have good eye contact with the attorneys, the judge or the jury when you answer the questions. It is up to you if you want to look at your offender.
  • Be ready for delays and postponements. Delays are common.

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