The Alexandria Victim Witness Assistance Program
Tips on Testifying
- Be Prepared. Try to recall what happened and picture the scene and the objects there. Don't try to memorize your testimony; simply tell what happened in your own words.
- Speak Clearly and Loudly. If you did not hear the question or understand it, ask the attorney to repeat it.
- Answer Only the Question Asked of You. Stop immediately if the judge interrupts or an attorney objects to a question.
- Do Not Guess or Speculate. If you don't know the answer, say so. If you give an estimate of time or distance, be sure everyone knows you're estimating.
- Tell The Truth. Don't pause to try and figure out if your answer will hurt or help the case. Just answer to the best of your recollection.
- Be Courteous. Try to remain calm and do not lose your temper. Always be polite.
- Dress For Court. Dress comfortably and appropriately (shorts, t-shirts are not good choices however, it is not necessary to dress in a suit). It is often cold in the courtrooms so you may want to bring a sweater with you.
- Call The Tape. To verify whether or not you will be needed in court to testify as a witness call 746-4100 after 5:00 pm and listen to the tape.
- Appear Early. Witnesses should report to the Office of the Commonwealth's Attorney at least 30 minutes before the time of trial.
When Your Child is a Witness: How to Help on Trial Day
- Think About Who Is Nervous About What. Feelings are contagious. Children are particulary sensitive, and can easily pick up on their parents feelings.
- Reassure Your Child. Let your child know that they'll do just fine and that they know what happened, and they know how to tell what's true. It is also helpful and reassuring to provide your child with lots of affection, well before court rather than just as they are going to court.
- Relaxing. The night before, you and your child can relax with a favorite meal and activity. It is important to keep the emphasis off of "getting enough sleep", and just focus on relaxing.
- Waiting Time. There is often a lot of waiting involved and you may want to bring a friend with you, pack some snacks or lunch, pack some favorite toys, and bring an activity for yourself.
- Dress For Court. Dress comfortably and appropriately (shorts, t-shirts are not good choices however, it is not necessary for your child to wear a suit or party dress). It is often cold in the courtrooms so you may want to bring a sweater with you.
The Alexandria Victim Witness Assistance Program is here to help. If your child would like a pre-trial courtroom tour, please call 703-746-4100.