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Witness Required, can I decline?

(26 Posts)
newbiebegentle Mon 24-Oct-16 08:07:31

Looking for a bit of advice, to cut a long story short I witnessed a crime at my old employment and I gave a statement but it was never signed. (Detective said they would type it up and then bring it back to me to sign). I no longer work there and my correspondence with the detective at the time was all saved to my old work email which I no longer have access to. It was so long ago, I don't remember what was written nor do I remember what the person who committed the crime looks like.
I've since had letters to attend court, the first one I spoke to them and declined (it just said you "may" be required to attend court). And now because they have pleaded not guilty, it is going to trial in the next couple of months.
I don't even know what the charges were against them. It is also conveniently on my birthday and I will be away at the time.
I have not received a summons but a letter to say I'm required to attend, can I decline again?

PinkSwimGoggles Mon 24-Oct-16 08:09:50

if you decline you will probably receive the summons.

LadyConstanceDeCoverlet Mon 24-Oct-16 12:44:56

You don't need to know what the charges are to give evidence about what you saw. It's pointless declining, you will be ordered to attend. It would be sensible to contact the police to see if there is any chance of changing the hearing date.

Alorsmum Tue 25-Oct-16 00:16:21

It's worth explaining you have a pre booked holiday. But yes you will need to attend. Ask for a copy of your statement beforehand. It's fine to say you don't remember due to the length of time it was.

Alorsmum Tue 25-Oct-16 00:16:42

I mean they may well change the date for a pre booked holiday however ultimately you will need to attend

Meadows76 Tue 25-Oct-16 00:29:48

Last time I went to court one of the witnesses had been held in the cells overnight because tr week before she didnt turn up. You are allowed to read your original statement to refresh your memory

Pipkinhartley Tue 25-Oct-16 08:05:08

The fact you haven't signed the statement is relevant as in order for it to be served it should be signed, and the declaration of truthfulness also signed. I'm surprised this hasn't been picked up on already. Likewise, if you produced any exhibits, for instance emails or other records, these should also have been produced with a signed exhibit label.
You should also have been contacted to ask about your availability as witness availability is considered at the pre trial hearing.
You might want to contact the court to advise them of the above.

WomanWithAltitude Tue 25-Oct-16 08:07:58

If you have a pre-booked holiday (and can provide evidence) then they will usually change the date for you in my experience. But you will be required to attend - if you refuse they'll summons you.

Why do you not want to do your civic duty anyway? Just tell yhrm about the holiday, and attend court on whatever date they rearrange.

PinkSwimGoggles Tue 25-Oct-16 10:05:45

regarding clash with holiday that's where your travel insurance comes in.

WomanWithAltitude Tue 25-Oct-16 17:32:35

Er no.... the CPS will rearrange if you can evidence a booking. No need to claim on insurance.

newbiebegentle Tue 25-Oct-16 18:44:08

My main concern for not going is that I have not signed a copy of the witness statement, I may have signed informal notes the detective took on the day of the incident in their notepad but certainly not signed a declaration of truth nor any official documentation. All emails sent were to confirm dates I would be available for the detective to come to my work for me to complete the signature. I can't see how my evidence is admissible in court and I'm worried I'm going to put myself through quite a lot of stress when realistically I'm not credible.

blueskyinmarch Tue 25-Oct-16 18:52:48

In my last job I was cited for court constantly. If it clashed with holidays I just sent confirmation of my booking to the court with a letter saying I could. It attend then left the ball in their court ( literally). I also asked to be put on standby on the actual day so they could call me if I was needed. Despite having had literally dozens of citations I have yet to still see the inside of the court room! I dont work in that job now but still get citations. Once I forgot about a citation as I was ill and a police officer was asked to go find out why I did not attend and report back. Another time i was very ill i had to get a particular type of letter from my GP to submit in advance The whole court system is a right pain in the arse.

Meadows76 Tue 25-Oct-16 19:35:36

How are you not credible? Surelymwhat you told them at the time was the truth and therefore still is?

WomanWithAltitude Tue 25-Oct-16 19:40:23

I agree with meadows. Evidence doesn't need to be in a statement to be admissible.

In fact, in almost every case, witnesses will say things on the stand that aren't in their statement. That's the whole point - the barristers examine witnesses to tease out additional detail or to clarify points. It's still bloody admissible.

WomanWithAltitude Tue 25-Oct-16 19:41:52

And they can take a signed statement from you at any point up to and including the trial date. I was even asked to give an additional statement DURING a trial I testified in. It was all admissible.

Pipkinhartley Tue 25-Oct-16 21:29:30

Hello again OP
Just to reiterate, without going into specifics, here is some info (open source if it matters) regarding witness statements and admissibility:
www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/488522/Witness_stat_v3.0_EXT_clean.pdf

You are not carrying out civic duty, that's for jury duty. However, if you are able to assist a criminal prosecution by speaking to police/ CPS/ Court and by having matters explained and understanding your role in the procedures , maybe by being given the oppurtuninty to read/ agree and sign the current statement ( which seems to be in draft at the moment) and get that submitted into evidence.

The Court may be able to assist with rescheduling the date you are required, if it's listed as a trial over several days it's no unheard of to list witnesses out of sequence ( prosecution open, followed by defence) if necessary to accommodate non availability.

Hope you get it sorted.

Sweets101 Tue 25-Oct-16 21:35:12

Yes you can decline due to prevent booked holiday, they should have already checked availability before setting the court date.
You may get a summons you may not.
You will be given a copy of your statement to read to refresh your memory.
You should contact your witness care officer to discuss it, they will do their best to accommodate you.
Realistically there is little they can do if you point blank refuse.

PigletWasPoohsFriend Tue 25-Oct-16 21:39:24

I can't see how my evidence is admissible in court and I'm worried I'm going to put myself through quite a lot of stress when realistically I'm not credible.

That isn't your decision to make though.

PigletWasPoohsFriend Tue 25-Oct-16 21:40:42

Realistically there is little they can do if you point blank refuse.

See pp. Yes there is.

WomanWithAltitude Tue 25-Oct-16 21:43:33

The detective's notes which you signed my not yet be linked to a formal statement, but they will already form part of the case file. So they will form part of the overall evidence regardless.

And Piglet is right - it isn't for you to decide whether you're credible. That's down to the magistrate / jury.

WomanWithAltitude Tue 25-Oct-16 21:45:46

The real question is why you're so keen to get out of it. You witnessed a crime. When citizens witness crimes, part of being a responsible citizen is being prepared to participate in our justice process. It doesn't matter whether you think what you have to say is important - it's not for you to decide.

Sweets101 Tue 25-Oct-16 22:02:33

If that was true Pig it would make my job a lot easier.
OP just speak to your witness care officer. Be honest. It's what they're there for.

Alorsmum Wed 26-Oct-16 09:45:14

I agree it's not your decision to make about your credible evidence! You can still sign a statement now or give oral evidence that you do not remember X y and z but you remember a b and c.
And yes you can be summonses and arrested if you do not obey a summons. Don't stick your head in the sand. Tell them you never signed. Tell them you are on holiday. It may not ever get to you being called to give evidence in court but you need to communicate with them and attend if required.

LadyConstanceDeCoverlet Wed 26-Oct-16 09:58:16

I've given evidence in court without having previously signed a statement - an issue came up which couldn't have been predicted and I was best fitted to deal with it. The court found in favour of the person on whose behalf I gave the statement, and there was no suggestion that my evidence wasn't credible.

I agree, ignore the suggestion that there is nothing anyone can do about it if you don't turn up - you can be summonsed, and disobeying a summons is contempt of court for which you can be imprisoned.

LunaLoveg00d Wed 26-Oct-16 09:58:30

I was in a similar situation years ago - I had a Saturday job in a supermarket and accepted a forged cheque. The Police turned up weeks later to ask me to confirm whether it was my initials on the back of the cheque and whether I recalled anything about the transaction or the people concerned - I didn't.

About 9 months later I received a summons to appear as a witness in the fraud trial. The dates clashed with my first year exams at Uni and the trial was being held in a town which wasn't where I was living. I called the Procurator Fiscal's office (Scottish equivalent of the CPS) and spoke to them about whether they needed me to appear - reiterating that there wasn't much I could add to the prosecution case and they excused me.

Whether you'll be forced to attend isn't up to you - it's up to the prosecution lawyers, CPS and the court. They know the full details of the case, how many witnesses they have, how important what you have to say is towards getting a prosecution. They are the ones who make the decisions about calling you or not. Phone them and talk to them or speak to officials at whatever court you've been asked to attend - they will have this sort of thing all of the time and will give much better advice than you'll get on here.

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