FAQ: Witnesses in a Criminal Proceeding

I've witnessed a crime or I have information about a crime. What should I do?

Call the police and report what you've seen or what you know.

Will a Crown Attorney want to see me before court?

Yes. Depending on the nature of the case, it may be well in advance of the court appearance or not until the day of the court appearance.

I just got served a subpoena. What is it? And what do I do now?

A subpoena is a document issued by the court directing you to appear in court at a certain date and time. You will have to come to court in compliance with the subpoena. If you received the subpoena to testify as a witness for the Crown, you should call the Crown Attorney first to review the evidence you'll be giving.

I didn't really see anything. Why am I being subpoenaed?

Even though you don't consider your testimony to be important, the Crown Attorney may need your testimony to help prove some aspect of the case. Ask the Crown Attorney what questions you'll be asked.

What should I bring with me to court?

If you need to bring anything into the courtroom, the Crown will let you know in advance. You'll probably have to wait before you are called into court so you may want to bring something to read while you're waiting.

What if I don't show up for court?

A warrant may be issued for your arrest.

I remember some things I forgot in my original statement to police. What should I do?

Tell the Crown Attorney. The Crown may request that the police obtain another statement from you.

Do I get paid to testify?

Witnesses are entitled to a nominal fee (around $6) for every day spent in court plus mileage one way. An application form is available at the Crown Attorney's office.

Am I entitled to expert witness fees?

If you are an "expert" witness, called not because of your personal involvement with the case, but because of your expertise in a specific area of science or medicine, for example, you will be able to bill the Crown for the time you spend examining evidence and testifying.

What about expenses like airfare and accommodation? Are they covered?

Yes, with pre-approval by the Crown Attorney.

How do I claim my fees or expenses?

The Crown Attorney will provide you with the appropriate forms.