A lot of work needs to be done before a court trial can begin. One initial step that needs to be taken to prepare for one is talking to witnesses who can be called to testify for your civil or criminal case. This witness should have seen or heard the crime that took place or may possess essential information about the crime or the defendant.
Both the defense and the prosecutor can have witnesses testify or tell what they know about what happened. The witnesses will provide a court testimony, which the judge or jury will use to clarify any events or information concerning the crime. But before the witness can testify, they must take an oath to agree or affirm that they will tell the truth in court. If they lie while under oath, they will face the consequences of perjury, such as prosecution, prison, and impeachment. Whether they commit perjury at a bail hearing or in family court, it will be considered a criminal offense.
Although all witnesses serve to provide testimony during a court hearing, there are different types. Here are the three most common types of witnesses.
- Eye Witness – This is a person who saw the crime with their own two eyes and will be asked to describe what they saw, making their testimony observational.
- Expert Witness – This is a person who is a specialist, usually someone who is educated in a particular area. They will be asked to testify based on their area of expertise only. These include psychologists and forensic experts.
- Character Witness – This is a person who knows the victim, defendant, or other people involved in the case. Rather than witnessing the crime first-hand, they help with the case by determining the defendant’s personality or victim. Neighbors, friends, family, and clergy can stand as character witnesses.
Now that we have identified the different types of witnesses, we go back to the real question: how can you get a witness to appear in court for your hearing? Below are various ways you can ask someone to testify.
Simply ask potential witnesses
Some individuals may not have issues with testifying in court. All you have to do is ask them nicely. For example, your close relatives such as your parents, siblings, or anyone that knows you can participate as your witness in a divorce case. A teacher or a daycare instructor can also testify willfully against someone who bullies the children. Aside from that, neighbors can also voluntarily testify for a crime that happened in a neighborhood.
A party will have to ask if someone is willing to testify in court. An advantage of getting a voluntary witness is that the party does not have to pay him or her. Aside from that, a person willing to testify may be more cooperative than someone who is forced to appear in court.
Use a subpoena for the witness
If there are no willing people to testify, a court can force them through a subpoena. A subpoena is a court order requiring a person to appear in court to give testimony or produce specific evidence. Some attorneys have special divisions dealing with serving a subpoena, so the process is much quicker.
If you want to resort to issuing a subpoena, you must petition the court and state your reason why a subpoena is a must. There may be exceptions that can excuse a person from testifying in court. The witness might assert their Fight Amendment right.
A deputy will deliver the subpoena. It can also be any other person as long as the law permits him or her. The person who receives the subpoena cannot avoid it—doing so may cause the judge who summoned the subpoena to summon the person to court. If the person who received the subpoena failed to attend court, the judge might find him or her in contempt.
Witnesses can play an essential role in your case, whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. You can directly ask a person to testify for you in court. However, if you are faced with resistance, you can petition the court to issue a subpoena and force your witness to testify for you. Whether you can get someone to testify on your behalf, lining up your witnesses can strengthen your defense. But you have to remember that it is only one aspect of your defense—it will be up to your lawyer to craft a strategy that will get justice on your behalf.