Called as a witness - help

ScotiaLass

Guru
Location
Middle Earth
I have been called to stand as a witness at the Sheriff Court.
The accused has pled not guilty to the public indecency charge and it's now going to court.
Can someone tell me what happens? I've never been in a court in my life and am now extremely anxious about it.
 

Tin Pot

Guru
I've only been as a juror.

Don't worry, they'll explain everything and from what I've seen, hand hold as much as you need.
 

Dave the Smeghead

Über Member
There really shouldn't be any cause for concern.

I don't know the Scottish system (being a sasanach b*stard) but as a witness you are called by whichever side you are supporting and you give your evidence, and the other side has the opportunity to question your evidence, then you are released.

Just be truthful and they can't trip you up.
 

Big Nick

Senior Member
Report to the reception area and they will tell you where the witness waiting room is

When you get there inform the usher of your name and which case you are there for and they will inform the prosecutor

The prosecutor will then speak with you and provide you with your witness statement you gave to the police for you to read and refresh your memory with (you will not be allowed this in court though)

You will then be called if the case goes ahead (they often don't for numerous reasons) and the prosecutor will lead you through your evidence, the defence will then get chance to ask you questions

If you are very anxious I would advise getting in touch with the witness service whom can arrange to meet you on the day, if you are massively anxious speak to the police officer in change of th case and ask about 'special measures' which apply to the court for various options to be considered to make giving evidence less stressful such as behind a screen, by video etc
 

midlife

Guru
Read Roger Mellies profanosaurus and try and get a many double entendres in as you can !

Seriously though, its done day in and day out and you are well supported.

Shaun
 
Not been as a witness, but several times as an expert witness in my field, both criminal and civil. As TP says, the court officials will explain all - it's not complicated.

You will have to swear on the Bible or the secular form is to 'Affirm' They ask you which you prefer and you read from a card.

Then all you have to do is do as you would in an exam - listen to the question, answer the question, and then shut up!

The lawyer for the prosecution goes first, to ask you to explain what you saw. Take a deep breath, take your time; witnesses of fact are extremely important, only you saw what happened. Everyone else relies on the witnesses so that they can understand the actual events at the time. You will then be cross-examined by the lawyer for the defence (assuming that the procedure in Scotland is the same as in England). All they are seeking to do is establish the facts of the case, for the judge and jury to make their decision as to the guilt of the accused.

Don't be fazed by a pause in questioning particularly when you are cross examined. The lawyer is thinking of his next question, if you start saying something after answering the question he asked, all you do is give him a clue as to what to ask next. So, stick rigidly to the question and say no more. Don't go off the point, don't try and be clever, and don't answer a question that wasn't asked.

Under cross-examination, the lawyer will try to undermine what you say you saw. All you have to do is stick to the facts and be calm and considered. The judge knows the game, and so do the lawyers. Regrettably, the witnesses feel the stress - but if you simply take your time and stick to simple answers, the court will appreciate your position and integrity.

Enjoy it. Not many people get the opportunity.
 

MikeW-71

Veteran
Location
Carlisle
My Dad was quite often in court as a witness with his job (HGV Inspectorate). It was not unusual for the defendant to plead not guilty in the hope that witnesses wouldn't turn up and get the case dropped. Once in court on the day with everyone ready to go, they plead guilty and you never have to set foot in the courtroom.

He would sometimes be sitting outside the courtroom most of the day before that happened.
 

RhythMick

Über Member
Location
Barnsley
Thanks all.
It says on the letter that I can get in touch to get support.
I have Aspergers and this is massively freaking me out.
There's no reason that you should be especially worried because you are on the Aspergers spectrum. My son is borederline but shares many of the traits. While everyone is different one trait that seems to be common is that you will be scrupulously honest and factual, which is exactly what the court wants you to be.

The court will have experience with Aspergers, it's not exactly uncommon. I would get in touch with the witness service and explain your anxiety.

I would second the "stick to the question" comment.
 
OP
ScotiaLass

ScotiaLass

Guru
Location
Middle Earth
There's no reason that you should be especially worried because you are on the Aspergers spectrum. My son is borederline but shares many of the traits. While everyone is different one trait that seems to be common is that you will be scrupulously honest and factual, which is exactly what the court wants you to be.

The court will have experience with Aspergers, it's not exactly uncommon. I would get in touch with the witness service and explain your anxiety.

I would second the "stick to the question" comment.
I hate conversing or interacting with people I don't know, so facing a room full of strangers and under those circumstances won't be good for my anxiety levels!
Apparently he has another day to change his plea before the date in court.
 

Tin Pot

Guru
Another point is that it's a very mundane experience.

There is nothing of the drama about it.

In fact there's a lot of sitting around in empty rooms with nothing to do, as a juror. So take a book!

Everyone involved does this all day, so if anything I would expect the experience to be anti climactic for you.
 

RhythMick

Über Member
Location
Barnsley
I hate conversing or interacting with people I don't know, so facing a room full of strangers and under those circumstances won't be good for my anxiety levels!
Apparently he has another day to change his plea before the date in court.
I understand. You won't be conversing or interacting within anyone except 2, possibly 3 people (both barristers and possibly the judge). It's not a conversation though, it's more like an exam. Question, answer. Question, answer. Take a deep breath. Smile. Be truthful and stick to the question. It will all be over before you know it.
 
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