What To Expect When You're Expecting (to Testify at a Trial)
January 25, 2011 11:03 AM Subscribe
I received a court summons - eeek! They'd like me to be a witness at another individual's criminal trial (whew!). What should I expect? Note: this question involves Pennsylvania and the the Magisterial District Court system.
posted by julthumbscrew to Law & Government (20 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Last year, I was involved in a car accident. A woman rear-ended me when I was stopped at a red light. She then backed up and - in an attempt to flee the scene - rear-ended me AGAIN (I know, right?). On her second attempt, she successfully fled the scene of the accident. As she was fleeing, I saw (and committed to memory) both her face and license plate number.
Long story slightly shorter: I filed a police report. A month later, I was asked to pay a visit to the police station; I (correctly) picked her out of a photo lineup. The other day, I received a summons: she is being charged with leaving the scene of an accident, careless driving and driving with a suspended license. They would like me to appear at the trial as a witness. Now what?
- How likely IS this to go to trial? Will they offer her a plea bargain first, like they do with traffic tickets?
- The trial won't be like a televised trial, sure - but what SHOULD I expect? Oaths? Cross-examination? The perp glaring at me from across the room?
- Is there anything I should do to prepare for this experience?
- MeFites who've served as witnesses before: how was YOUR experience? Was it uncomfortable/horrible?
- Am I likely to be awarded damages at this trial if she IS found guilty (my insurance covered most, but not ALL of the financial issues)?
- Is she likely to go to jail? As she didn't injure or kill me, I've got to say I'd feel some degree of guilt if she had to do time.