If I’m not on Trial, do I need a Lawyer?
So you’ve been subpoenaed. Maybe this is for a case where you called the police in the first place because you were a victim or a witness. Maybe this is for a case you where you were a witness months and months ago. You’re not even sure you can remember anything! Maybe this is for a case where your friend is on trial, and you’re afraid of what you know, both for your friends’ sake and your own.
In almost all cases, you are given very little direction: a phone call to dial the night (or, if you’re lucky, the weekend) before the trial date, maybe a chance to talk to the State if you were the victim. However, that’s very little preparation ahead of time. Especially considering how big of a deal trials are! You’ll probably have to take the day off of work, the trial will probably run late (hint: it almost always does), you might not be able to remember everything now, you get nervous talking in public, the court reporter is going to be writing down everything you say, and the judge and the jury will be, well, judging you.
It’s not a pleasant situation, being called as a witness. However, it is a vital one to our entire legal system, and one underserved by attorneys. Did you know that, even if you are not a party in the action, you can hire an attorney to assist you through this process, and perhaps even represent your interests in court should that be necessary? An attorney can help you try and remember what testimony you are expected to produce, perhaps help gather documents that will assist you, can talk to the parties to gain a better understanding of the situation, and even assist you in preparing for specific questions!
Most importantly (not that any of the above are unimportant), an attorney can help you look out for Fifth Amendment issues. Under the Constitution, and Wisconsin law, no person can be made to testify to any “self-incriminating” evidence. This means that you cannot be forced to testify that you committed an illegal act, or even any evidence that could be used to even argue you did. It’s a really powerful tool! Attorneys are trained in recognizing these issues, can help you determine if you should invoke that powerful right, can assist you through the process, both in preparation and on the day of, can negotiate for you (even though you aren’t a party!) and can warn the court ahead of time, which courts appreciate.
All of these benefits of an attorney can be had, even when you are not a party to the action. Just because you are not named in a criminal case or a law suit, doesn’t mean that you do not have rights, nor does it mean that testifying in open court is not potentially harmful. These rights are best defended by having somebody whose only job is to protect your interest: an attorney.
Contact Attorney William Ackell today at 920-739-9900.