Frequently Asked Questions - Victims Assistance
Victims and Witnesses

Q: Am I important?

A: 

If you are a witness to a crime, you play an essential role in the search for justice. Many times a witness to a crime is the key person in convicting a criminal. Without the witness' willingness to testify when needed, the criminal justice system cannot function.



For more information, contact  or call (541) 474-5200.


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Q: Should I talk to the other side?

A: 

You may be approached by the defendant's attorney or an investigator employed by the defendant's attorney. Be sure you know to whom you are talking. You are not required to talk to anyone. The choice is yours. If you have questions concerning this or you want someone from our office to be present when you discuss the matter, please call us. If you give a written or taped statement, ask for a copy. We want to have a copy also.



For more information, contact  or call (541) 474-5200.


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Q: Will I be called as a witness?

A: 

If you received this handout with a subpoena, you are a witness and must follow the directions in the subpoena. If you received this handout and it was not with a subpoena, you may be called as a witness. This depends on the facts of the case and the kind of proceeding taking place. If you are called as a witness, be assured that your testimony is very important. If the defendant pleads guilty or the court dismisses the case, it will probably not be necessary for you to appear.



For more information, contact  or call (541) 474-5200.


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Q: How will I be notified to appear?

A: 

As soon as a hearing or trial date and time is set by the court, our office will serve you with a subpoena. The subpoena will advise you when and where to appear and what you need to bring with you. We will contact you promptly if there are any changes in the date, time or place. Sometimes we must contact witnesses on very short notice. We try to avoid this. We understand this causes hardships, and we will try to work with you in every way we can.



For more information, contact  or call (541) 474-5200.


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Q: What if I have a conflict with the date?

A: 

The date and time cases are set for trial are determined by the court, not our office. If you have an insurmountable conflict, contact this office immediately. An example of such a conflict would be a scheduled surgery or a child's wedding.



For more information, contact  or call (541) 474-5200.


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Q: Are written statements allowed?

A: 

Witnesses often ask if they can avoid appearing by giving a written statement. This is not possible in criminal cases for constitutional reasons. Witnesses must actually be present in court in contested criminal cases. A defendant has a right to "cross examine" a witness in person.



For more information, contact  or call (541) 474-5200.


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Q: How long will I be needed?

A: 

The length of time a witness must be in attendance at the court will depend upon the facts of the case. Since no one knows how long any other witness may testify, it is impossible to predict the exact time you will be on the stand. Be assured we are aware of the inconvenience caused by any delay in our estimated schedule, and we will do our best to keep your involvement to a minimum. Bring a book or some favorite magazine.



For more information, contact  or call (541) 474-5200.


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Q: May I be in the courtroom before and after testifying?

A: 

Witnesses may watch the trial unless excluded by the judge. Always check with the prosecutor or bailiff before remaining in the courtroom. If witnesses have been excluded and you remain in the courtroom, the judge could refuse to allow you to testify.

Under the Crime Victim's Bill of Rights, a victim has the right to be in the courtroom during the trial of their case even though other witnesses may be excluded.



For more information, contact  or call (541) 474-5200.


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Q: Will I be paid as a witness?

A: 

The State pays witnesses the statutory fee and the statutory reimbursement for mileage. Both of these are, unfortunately, very small. Witnesses cannot be paid lost wages or other expenses related to court appearances.



For more information, contact  or call (541) 474-5200.


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Q: How do I collect the witness fee?

A: 

On the day you testify, you must turn in your copy of the subpoena to the receptionist at the District Attorney's Office. The receptionist will pay you.



For more information, contact  or call (541) 474-5200.


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Q: How do I dress for court?

A: 

Witnesses must dress neatly. Men do not need to wear a coat and tie nor do women need to wear business attire. Witnesses must, however, wear clothes appropriate for the situation. It is important that jurors do not discount your testimony because of your clothing. Wear comfortable clothing which you would wear to a nice restaurant. Shorts, hats, halter/tank tops and similar types of clothing are not appropriate courtroom attire. The judge can refuse to allow you to testify if your clothing is inappropriate.



For more information, contact  or call (541) 474-5200.


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Q: How do I actually take the stand and testify?

A: 

When your name is called, approach the judge or possibly the judicial assistant and raise your right hand to receive the oath. Listen carefully to the oath and respond. Speak in a clear manner and loud enough to be heard. After taking the oath, you will sit in a chair on the witness stand. The prosecutor will be the first to ask you questions concerning your knowledge about the case. Following the prosecutor's questions, called "direct examination," the defense attorney will ask you questions as part of the "cross examination." Remain seated until excused by the judge. After testifying, please return to where you were before testifying unless you are excused from further attendance by the judge.



For more information, contact  or call (541) 474-5200.


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Q: How do I conduct myself on the witness stand?

A: 

Be relaxed! Look at the lawyer as the lawyer asks the questions. Speak clearly and loudly enough so that all can hear you. Don't allow the lawyer asking the questions to hurry or upset you. Take time to make sure you understand the questions. Take your time to answer questions. You can ask the attorney to repeat the question. If you don't remember, say so. Don't make the mistake of guessing. If you do not know the answer to the question, you must say you do not know.

You must testify truthfully in all respects. It is the felony crime of perjury if you purposely give false testimony.



For more information, contact  or call (541) 474-5200.


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Q: What do I do when objections are made or the judge stops me?

A: 

When this happens, stop and do not say another word until instructed to testify by the court.



For more information, contact  or call (541) 474-5200.


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