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F.A.Q.
Q: What will happen if a witness refuses to testify?
Q: What if I can’t attend court on the date stated in the subpoena?
Q: Who will be with me in court when I testify?
Q: Is the defendant going to be present when I testify?
Q: Why am I a witness? I didn't see the crime occur.
Q: How long will I be in court as a witness?
Q: How do I get a copy of the police report?
Q: If I am a victim of a crime, what services are available to me?
Q: I was the victim of a crime. Can you tell me the name of the defendant and the defendant’s next court date?
Q: I have been subpoenaed by the DA to appear as a witness in a criminal case. Will I be paid witness fees?
 

Q: What will happen if a witness refuses to testify?
A: Unless a witness can exercise a certain privilege, the witness will be compelled by the court to testify. If a witness refuses the court’s order to testify, the court can impose sanctions on the witness including fines and/or custody time.
 
Q: What if I can’t attend court on the date stated in the subpoena?
A: If you have a conflict with the date on the subpoena, contact the deputy district attorney handling the case or Witness Services before the appearance date and discuss your conflict.  The Witness Services telephone number will be on the subpoena.  In some cases, the deputy district attorney handling the case can put you “on call” so that you can go to work or school on the day you are subpoenaed.  You will be called at a pre-arranged telephone number an hour or so before you are needed in court.   
 
Q: Who will be with me in court when I testify?
A: You may bring friends or relatives with you to court, and they may be allowed to sit in the courtroom while you testify, unless they are also witnesses.  Witnesses testify one at a time and generally wait outside the courtroom for their turn.  A Victim/Witness Advocate may also be with you, at your request.
 
Q: Is the defendant going to be present when I testify?
A: Yes.  The defendant must be present in court to hear what all the witnesses say about him or her.  The lawyer for the defendant is called the defense attorney and is allowed to ask you questions related to the case.
 
Q: Why am I a witness? I didn't see the crime occur.
A: Witnesses are not limited to "eyewitnesses". You may have seen the crime happen or may know something about it. You may also know something about a piece of evidence, or may know something that contradicts another witness’ testimony. If you wonder why you are testifying in a particular case, ask the prosecutor handling it.
 
Q: How long will I be in court as a witness?
A: Your courtroom time, while actually testifying, may not take long; it depends upon many factors.  The majority of your time in court will be spent waiting to testify.  You and your family and friends are encouraged to bring a book or magazine to read while you wait.
 
Q: How do I get a copy of the police report?
A: In general, the OCDA will not release police reports to the public.  Reports may be obtained through the appropriate law enforcement agency.
 
Q: If I am a victim of a crime, what services are available to me?
A: The Victim/Witness Assistance Program offers a variety of services to victims of crime.  You may also contact the Victims of Crime Compensation Program (800) 777-9229.
 
Q: I was the victim of a crime. Can you tell me the name of the defendant and the defendant’s next court date?
A: The OCDA can provide you with the name of the adult defendant and the next court date if we have received the police reports and filed charges against the defendant.  To obtain this information, call the OCDA branch officelocated in the judicial district where the crime occurred.  The OCDA is legally unable to disclose information on most juvenile defendants. 
 
Q: I have been subpoenaed by the DA to appear as a witness in a criminal case. Will I be paid witness fees?
A: Whether a witness receives any witness fee is at the discretion of the court.  A court may order that you receive witness fees (not to exceed $12 to $18 per day) plus reasonable and necessary expenses after testifying. It is the civic duty of all citizens to come to court and testify when subpoenaed as a witness to ensure a fair justice system. 
 
 


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