Office of the State Attorney

Twentieth Judicial Circuit of Florida

 
 
 

 

Witness Coordination


Victims and witnesses are important to the judicial system. Without your cooperation and support the prosecution of criminals would not be successful.

The Witness Coordination Program can provide you information and answer your questions about why you are needed as a witness and what to expect.

All parties involved in the judicial process realize your time is valuable and will make every attempt to ensure your time is not wasted. There may be unavoidable delays before you testify; please be patient, you have not been forgotten. If you are contacted by an attorney or investigator prior to trial, please cooperate. Failure to do so could jeopardize the outcome of the case.

Witness waiting rooms are located near the courtrooms in each courthouse for your convenience. If you would like to view a courtroom before trial you may do so by contacting the Witness Coordination Office.

Crimes compensation is available to some victims. Information is available from law enforcement agencies, or by contacting our Victim Services Unit.

Some Suggestions for Being a Good Witness

  • Be neat in your appearance. Proper attire is required. Dress slacks and shirt for the men, and dresses, skirt and blouse or dress slacks for the ladies. SHORTS ARE NOT PERMITTED IN THE COURTROOM. You will be noticed not only by what you say, but also by how you look.

  • Avoid distracting habits such as chewing gum or playing with your hair.

  • Before testifying try to recall information accurately in your mind. Do not memorize your testimony, it will lack the ring of truth.

  • Be serious at all times. The courtroom is not a place to be humorous.

  • Stop immediately if the judge interrupts you, or if an attorney makes an objection.

  • Speak loudly so that you can be heard. Do not nod, but answer "yes" or "no."

  • Listen to the questions. Answer the question asked directly and simply, then stop. Do not volunteer additional information.

  • Do not give opinions unless asked. Do not let personal feelings of who is right or wrong color your testimony.

  • Answer questions to the best of your ability. It is not improper to say, "I don't remember" or "I don't know." If you make a mistake  in answering a question, correct it immediately.

  • Do not argue with the attorney. Treat both attorneys with courtesy and respect.

  • If you are asked if you have spoken with anyone about your testimony before coming to court, be sure and answer "yes" if you have. There is nothing wrong with discussing the facts with an attorney, investigators, or a law enforcement officer.

  • Be natural, be yourself. Relax and do the best you can.

  • Upon arrival at the designated courtroom, do not go into the courtroom. Go to the witness waiting rooms. In felony cases an investigator will be advised of your arrival. In misdemeanor cases, you will be instructed at what courtroom to appear.

  • Leave the witness stand with confidence in the knowledge that you have presented the truth to the best of your ability.

  • Remember to bring your subpoena with you for any court appearance. To receive payment for appearing as a witness, bring your subpoena to Witness Management. It will be stamped and forward to the Jury Clerk's Office. (See #8 of Questions and Answers)

Questions and Answers

1.

How does a case get to court?

 

If you are a victim or witness of a criminal act, your involvement with the justice system begins when you enter a written or oral complaint, under oath, before a judicial officer. If the evidence is sufficient to indicate that a crime has been committed, a charging document is issued to bring the accused before the court.

2.

Do I have to come to court?

 

Yes, if you receive a subpoena from the State Attorney's Office or a notice to appear. Upon receipt of your subpoena you must call Witness Management. From this point on your contact with Witness Coordination is very important in regard to court date changes, telephone stand-by procedures and disposed information.

3.

How many times will I be needed in court?

 

Witness Coordination will place you on telephone stand-by each time the case comes up for trial. You need only appear when called to come to court by Witness Coordination or the attorney that has subpoenaed you.

4.

What happens if a defendant does not appear?

 

A bench warrant is issued to arrest the defendant if he does not appear in court.

5.

How do I prepare myself for what happens in the courtroom?

 

Review the case in your mind a day or two before your court date. You can refresh your memory by making notes, but do not memorize material or your testimony might appear "staged." Also, the attorney or investigator will talk with you prior to your taking the stand.

6.

What if I am threatened in connection with the case?

 

It is very rare that a witness is threatened. However, if this does occur, you are to contact the Witness Coordination immediately.

7.

If I have a problem with transportation, with the scheduled time of my appearance, vacation schedule, business appointment out of town, or a general question regarding court dates, what do I do?

 

Contact the Witness Coordination Office with any and all court date conflicts. This will enable the attorneys to decide how to proceed with the case.

8.

How do I receive payment?

 

After you testify in court, bring your subpoena and parking ticket to the Witness Coordination Office. Your parking ticket will be validated and your subpoena will be forwarded to the Jury Clerk's Office. The Clerk's Office will mail a check to your address.

 

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