Information for Victims and Witnessess
Trial by jury before an impartial judge is perhaps the greatest protection against tyranny in our democratic society. A jury composed of citizens from our community, impaneled to hear evidence, and sworn to return a verdict which speaks the truth, relies upon the testimony of witnesses in its search for truth.
As a victim or a witness, you perform a vital role in aiding the jury to understand those facts of which you have knowledge. Your several appearances in court will undoubtedly be a hardship, but without your help the system could not function. My entire staff will help you in any way possible and we thank you for your cooperation.
Your Duties as a Witness:
You are a witness because you have seen, heard, or know something about a crime. If you are the victim of a violent crime or owner of property stolen, damaged or misused, the case may not be prosecuted unless you testify. You may not think that what you know about the case is significant, but it may be highly important. Many small pieces of information are often required to determine what happened.
To prevent delay and possible dismissal of a case, witnesses must be present when asked to appear. We must be able to contact you, so it is important that you keep our office informed of your present address, telephone numbers and plans you have for vacation. Please give your Victim/Witness Counselor this information as soon as possible.
Tips On Being A Witness:
- Dress neatly and conservatively for Court.
- Do not memorize your testimony, but try to review the facts before the trial.
- Relax, speak loudly and clearly, directing your answers to the jury.
- Be polite when answering questions. Do not lose your temper.
- Listen carefully to each question before answering.
- If you do not understand the question, say so.
- If you do not have an answer, say so. Do not guess.
- If your answer needs an explanation, say so and then explain.
- If you make a mistake in answering a question, say so and correct it.
- Give a well thought out answer.
- Give positive definite answers, avoiding answers such as "I think," "I believe," or "I guess so."
- Do not volunteer information. Give short answers if that is what is called for: "yes" or "no," if that is what is appropriate.
- Do not chew gum on the witness stand.
- Be on your best behavior in and around the courtroom. When court is not in session, jurors may be in the corridors, elevators, etc.
- Do not discuss your testimony with other witnesses.
- Do not make statements to the media prior to or during a trial without first checking with the Assistant State Attorney.
- Tell the truth.
Rights of a Crime Victim:
On January 3, 1989, with the enactment of Article 1, Section 16, Paragraph (b), of the Florida Constitution, the State of Florida became the first state in the nation to change their constitution to include the rights of crime victims. Section 960.001, Florida Statutes, provides legal rights established for crime victims.
- Notification of the arrest, release or escape of the accused, if possible
- Advance notice of all court proceedings, if time permits
Information on steps concerning freedom from intimidation
- Notification of scheduling changes
- Opportunity to have a victim advocate present during depositions
- Assistance in obtaining the return of recovered property
- A prompt and timely disposition of the case
- Prompt notification of the results of court proceedings
- To be informed, present and heard, when relevant, at all criminal proceedings
- Assistance in obtaining Crime Victim Compensation, restitution, and other services to which you may be entitled
- Upon request, notification to your employer and/or school when you must appear in court
- Opportunity to submit an oral or written impact statement at the time of sentencing
Victim Compensation Program:
Some defendants will post bond immediately after arrest and will be released. The holding facility is required to notify you of the defendant’s release for certain felony crimes. If you wish to determine if the defendant has been or may be released from custody, you may contact one of the numbers below for custody information:
- Pinellas County……….727/464-6369
- Pasco County…………727/847-5878 ext. 6070
Return of Property
Upon your request, the police will attempt to return your property to you promptly and substitute photographs in its place unless there is a compelling reason for retaining it until after the trial process is over. Questions may be directed as follows:
- Pinellas County 727/464-6090
- East Pasco County 352/521-4333
- West Pasco County 727/847-8158
Subpoenas and notifications will remind you that you are required to dress appropriately for the courtroom. Although we live in a casual atmosphere here in Florida, proper attire is required in Court. For example, tank tops or shorts would be inappropriate. Courtrooms are usually quite cool, so you may want to bring a light jacket or sweater. If you have any questions about what to wear, please feel free to call the Victim/Witness Management Team at
Deaf Victims / Witnesses
Should a deaf or hard of hearing person need to contact this office weekdays between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., they may use a relay service to call Victim/Witness for assistance at 727/464-6090. After hours, they may use a relay service to communicate with our office through our twenty-four hour number, 727/464-6221.