Guide to Court Proceedings

As the victim or witness to a crime, your cooperation is essential in making the criminal justice system work.

If you have any questions or problems, feel free to contact the Tippecanoe County Victim / Witness Assistance Program at 765-423-9305. Victim Advocates are available to assist you Monday - Friday 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Criminal Case
Criminal charges can not be brought against an offender or suspect by the Prosecutor's Office without a police report. A criminal case begins with the police report being filed with the Prosecutor's Office. The Prosecutor's Office reviews the report to determine what (if any) charges will be filed against the suspect.

Receiving a Subpoena
A subpoena is a court order directing you to be present at the time and place stated. Once you are served with a subpoena, you are obligated to appear. Failure to comply may result in contempt of court charges, so it is very important that you inform the Prosecutor if you cannot appear as directed.

Before the Trial
A thorough investigation by the law enforcement agency and careful preparation of the case by the Prosecutor's office are essential. All reports, statements or other evidence in the case should be brought to the attention of the Prosecutor well in advance of the trial so that he/she may adequately comply with Court ordered discovery. The Court may exclude evidence where the defendant is not notified before trial of its existence.

You are under no obligation to speak with the defendant, his attorney or his investigator before trial. Any effort by them to contact you before the trial should be reported to the Prosecutor immediately. You may be required to give a deposition, where you will provide sworn testimony and answer questions outside the courtroom in the presence of the Prosecutor, the Defense Attorney, and a stenographer.

If you have not had previous courtroom experience, make it a point to visit the Court and listen to others testify. This is the best way to understand and familiarize yourself with what you will face as a witness without taking the stand yourself.

At Trial
Unless a defendant enters into a plea agreement, his guilt or innocence will be determined at a trial on a date determined by the court. Unless waived by the defendant, all trials are jury trials. As a victim or witness of the crime, you will be subpoenaed for trial.To prepare for the trial, the Deputy Prosecutor assigned to the case will contact you to arrange a victim/witness conference.
  • Tell the truth.
  • Dress neatly and conservatively.
  • Be Sure you understand the question before you try to answer. If you don't understand, ask the attorney to repeat it or rephrase it.
  • Take your time.
  • Relax, speak clearly and talk loudly enough so that everyone can hear you.
  • Be courteous.
  • Be prepared.
  • If there are questions involving distance and/or time, and you estimate, be sure everyone understands that you're estimating.
  • Give positive, definite answers when possible.
  • Answer only the question asked. Do not volunteer additional information.
  • If you don't know the answer, say so. Don't speculate.
It is common for the trial court to exclude all witnesses from the courtroom while others are testifying. This is to insure that the testimony of a witness does not influence the testimony of another. Do not discuss the testimony of witnesses who have already testified. Once you have testified you are free to leave the courtroom, or remain in the audience, unless otherwise ordered by the Judge or requested by the Prosecutor.

If the defendant is found guilty a Sentencing Hearing will be scheduled. At sentencing, the Judge will consider the information in the pre-sentence report and the Victim Impact Statement to determine the sentence he/she will impose.

If at any time you have questions about the process or a proceeding please contact the Victim Assistance Program.