Becoming a witness in a criminal case is not something most of us have any control over – it is a matter of being in the place where something relevant happens, when it happens. Minimizing inconvenience for witnesses is important to our office, but our primary responsibility has to be obtaining necessary information and then presenting all relevant evidence and testimony in court – we have to pursue the full truth.
Sometimes it may not be clear to a person why they are a witness in a case – perhaps they were not at the ‘scene’ at the time of the crime. However, what information is relevant in a case, and when and how it becomes relevant, can be complicated given the rules of evidence and the legal definitions of crimes. If you received a witness subpoena or are endorsed as a witness in a case, that means an attorney has determined that as of that time, there is some piece of information that is relevant to the case.
There are a some of important things to remember if you are a witness in a case:
- You do not have to speak with attorneys for either side unless you want to do that – whether you speak to our office or to the defense is entirely your decision.
- If you are contacted by anyone claiming to be involved in the case, you should require them to make crystal clear which side they are affiliated with – the prosecution or the defense. Often times both sides have investigators that technically work for “the State of Colorado”, so you should confirm which side they represent.
- If you are a witness for the prosecution, staying in contact with our V/W coordinator will help keep the experience as smooth as possible, particularly with respect to scheduling – making sure the V/W coordinator has a reliable way to communicate with you in a timely way will help minimize your inconvenience as a witness.
- If the case goes to trial, the judge will almost certainly order all trial witnesses not to discuss their testimony with other witnesses until the trial is over.
If you are unclear about why you are a witness, you should contact the V/W coordinator for the county office where the case is pending:
- Grand County – 970-725-3371
- Routt County – 970-870-5200
- Moffat County – 970-824-7041