Tips about testifying

Here are some things you should know if you are asked to testify in court.

Transportation costs and reimbursement

If you testify in court

We can offer limited compensation for:

  • Mileage
  • Lost wages
  • Other related expenses
Contact the victim/witness specialist listed on your subpoena for
  • Information about where to park or public transportation
  • Help completing the paperwork to get reimbursed for parking and transportation

Outside the courtroom

Stay in the hallway until you are called into the courtroom to testify.
Avoid jurors and watch what you say.
  • Don't talk with jurors or potential jurors.
  • If someone you think may be a juror or potential juror approaches you, politely say:
    • I am a witness.
    • I cannot talk with you until the case is done.
  • During the case, don't discuss the case, your testimony or what happens in the courtroom with or near:
    • Other witnesses
    • Potential witnesses
    • Jurors
    • Potential jurors

Inside the courtroom

Get comfortable and think before you speak
  • Once on the witness stand, make yourself comfortable. Ask for water or a break, if needed.
  • If you find a question confusing, you can ask the person to repeat, restate or explain it.
  • Pause and think before answering a question.
Speak clearly
  • When answering a question, speak clearly and loudly so everyone can hear you.
  • The court reporter cannot document head nodding or an "uh-huh" type of response. Answer with a verbal "yes" or "no" or other appropriate words.
  • When responding to questions, try to speak to the jury; if no jury is present, speak to the judge.
Wait your turn to speak
  • The court reporter must document all comments made in the courtroom. For this reason, only one person may speak at a time. Don't interrupt others.
  • Stop speaking immediately if you are interrupted by one of the attorneys. Here's why:
    • The attorney might be asking the judge to decide if you should continue answer the question.
    • After the judge decides, either the judge or the attorney questioning you will tell you if you should finish answering the question.

Tips for answering questions

If you don't know or can't remember the answer to the question
  • Don't guess.
  • Say that you don't know or you can't remember.
If a question is confusing or unclear
  • Don't answer until you're certain you understand the question.
  • You can ask the attorney to repeat the question or tell them you don't understand what they're asking.
Don't allow anyone to
  • Misstate your words
  • Put words in your mouth
  • Confuse you into giving an answer you didn't mean to give.
Rely on the truth as you know it from your
  • Recollections
  • Observations
  • Memory of the events

Victim Services

City Attorney's Office




City Hall
350 Fifth St. S., Room 210
Minneapolis, MN 55415