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How To Get Witnesses To Testify In A Delaware Criminal Case

Witness

There are generally two kinds of evidence that you will want to bring into court with you when you were arrested on criminal charges in Delaware: Exhibits and testifying witnesses. Exhibits are the documents, tangible objects, pictures, video, and related items that both sides will introduce to support their version of the facts. The prosecutor and your defense lawyer will also present witnesses, including eyewitnesses who have personal knowledge and experts.

Because witnesses can be so critical to your defense, you certainly want to ensure that they appear in court and cooperate with your Wilmington criminal defense attorney as much as possible. Unfortunately, many individuals may be reluctant to come forward. Some are intimidated by the idea of a criminal case, while others may not understand the process. A few tips can help you persuade them and get the testimony you need into the courtroom. 

Convince the Potential Witness 

Getting a witness to participate in your case may be as simple as asking. When the topic of the potential testimony is not particularly revealing, you may not encounter challenges. For instance, if an aspect of your defense relates to your daily routine, the barista that gets your morning joe may not have a problem saying you are a regular customer at the coffee shop. However, when the subject is sensitive, there could be hurdles. A person who has a criminal past may not be quick to head back to the courtroom. 

Subpoena 

If you cannot persuade a potential witness to cooperate, there are tools available to get that person into court. The process for forcing a witness to appear is a subpoena under Delaware criminal procedure rules. The subpoena is an order entered by the court and signed by the judge, so there are consequences for noncompliance. You must be able to prove why the process is necessary, and keep in mind that there are exceptions. A witness cannot be forced to testify if doing so would be self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment. 

Unavailable Witnesses and the Hearsay Rule 

If a witness is unavailable, his or her statements may still be included as evidence if they constitute exceptions to the hearsay rule. To be unavailable means that the individual cannot or will not testify, such as because of a privilege, inability to recall information, mental illness, or other factors. By meeting the legal requirements, it may be possible to have the witness’ statements read into the court record. 

Use of Documents 

In some cases, you may be able to present the same information that would be provided by the witness testimony. Your lawyer can introduce documents as proof.              

Trust Your Delaware Criminal Defense Attorney to Assess Strategy 

It is useful to review this information about getting witnesses to testify in your criminal case, but you can trust your attorney to handle the specifics regarding evidence. For more information on ways you can support your case, please contact Attorney Michael W. Modica. You can schedule a consultation at our Wilmington, DE office by calling 302.600.1262 or going online. After we review your circumstances, we can discuss defense strategies.

Resource:

courts.delaware.gov/rules/pdf/superior_criminal_rules_2016.pdf

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