Dispelling fear in Witnesses

There is no single day that passes without an incident of crime. It has become the order of the day in the U.S. and the world at large. The Criminal Justice System has a difficult task, not only in dealing with the criminals, but also the witnesses. Severally, the witnesses are subjected to fear because of very many factors. It becomes hard for a juvenile witness to give evidence in court in the absence of at least one of the parents. Additionally, the witness may be afraid of the aftermath of the court proceedings. The religious affiliation, race or tribe of the witness can also be a factor which would make the witness not to give evidence. It is therefore the task of the Investigator to ensure that the witness receives all the support that he or she needs for an effective trial. Otherwise, the case would not continue properly as a result of lack of witnesses.  Dispelling fear in Witnesses

It is not easy for any person to recount on the ordeals of a crime scene. It becomes quite an uphill task for a person to give the details of the crime in court, where the accused is present. The most difficult task lies in the hands of the investigator, who is responsible for ensuring that all the fear that the witness has is dispelled. . According to House Government (2009), there are special arrangements for vulnerable or intimidated witnesses. This involves the witnesses giving evidence through live links, so as to protect the witnesses This essay seeks to analyze the steps that I would take as an investigator so as to dispel fear in a crime witness.

Any person who has witnessed a crime would feel very distressed and frightened to a point of failing to give evidence. As the investigator, I would inform the court on the behavior of the witness. In response to this, the court would give an order refereed to as a special measures direction which is made by the court dealing with the case. This results from an application written by the volition of the judge or the parties applying to the court proceedings (In Brief, 2010).

To start with, the age of the witness has to be put into consideration. It would be very frightening for a child to give evidence, probably because of the many people at the courtroom, and the questions asked by the prosecutor or the judge. As the investigator, I would ensure that extra care is taken on all juvenile witnesses. According to Bombet (2005), juveniles are very fearful especially when they realize their statements are put into tape. Therefore, I would curb this problem by ensuring that there is at least on parent of the juvenile. This is important as the child will get moral support, and therefore give proper evidence (In Brief, 2010).
It is also very important to determine the kind of offence that the accused has been tried for. In relation to this, the alleged circumstances that surround the offence should be carefully considered. Some cases have very horrifying incidents, especially those that deal with high class murder. In such instances, the witness must be very frightened to give evidence, possibly because of the trauma he or she might have gone through during the incident. As an investigator, I would ensure that the witnesses who have gone through trauma attend therapy first, so that it can lessen the fear associated with fear (In Brief, 2010).

There have been instances where the witnesses have been victimized as a result of their race or tribe. Therefore, all investigators should be very cautious on the witness ethnicity, based on the cultural and social background (In Brief, 2010).I would assure the witness that his or her race or tribe does not matter, and that justice is what is needed at the end of the day.

All citizens in America and the world at large are entitled to freedom of worship. Therefore, if a witness is fearful in giving evidence, I would ensure that the court takes careful consideration of the witnesses beliefs as far as his or her religion is concerned. In relation to this, the beliefs that a person holds regarding politics should also be taken into consideration as they are also very crucial in determining the manner in which a witness gives confidence (In Brief, 2010).
In some cases, the behavior of the accused and his or her family contributes to the way the witness gives evidence in court. This is especially when the family of the accused is very hostile to the witness. Also, there may be very many people who the witness may associate with, who may be very instrumental in instilling fear in them (In Brief, 2010). As an investigator, I would liaise with the police to beef up security to the family of the witness. In this way, the witness would be less fearful.  

Ordinarily, if any witness has gone through intimidation as a result of testifying in an investigation or a legal proceeding, the court has a right to charge whoever is responsible for the act. These kinds of people are normally charged for court contempt and interference with justice. Additionally, judges have the discretion of determining such cases without necessarily going to the Crown Prosecution Service. According to the U.S law, anybody who is found guilty as a result of intimidating witnesses is imprisoned for not less than five years. The offender can also be fined for such an offense. There are cases where after the witnesses have given evidence, the people retaliate against him. In such cases, the individuals who retaliate against the witnesses can also be charged for court contempt (In Brief, 2010). As an investigator, I would ensure that the accused is aware of all these, so that he or she may not threaten the witness.

There are several other ways in which the witness can be protected so as to ensure that there is no fear associated with him giving the evidence. To start with, the details of the witness are not supposed to be revealed to either the defendant or even his or her legal representative. Details such as the address of the witness are not supposed to be spelt out in the courtroom. If at any time the witness feels threatened by anyone, they are allowed to inform this to their care officers, or even ring 999 so as to get assistance. The court also ensures that the witnesses are given separate waiting areas, which are far from the accuseds family. When a witness is associated with very sensitive cases, the police arrange for their relocation in very safe places (In Brief, 2010). I would also follow the same, by ensuring that the details of the witness are kept private, and assuring him of his or her safety, together with his or her family.

Protection of the witnesses should continue, even after the offender is incarcerated. This encourages the would- be witnesses of a threatening case, as they are assured of safety even after the offender is incarcerated or released from prison. If at any one point the offender is released from prison, the court has the legal responsibility of ensuring that the witness is safe .This is through a legal action called an injunction. This is a legal order forbidding a person to come within a certain distance of another named individual. This legal action is very crucial as it makes sure that the offender does not come any close to the former witness. If such an action is taken, the witnesses would be assured of their safety, and there would be no fear when giving their evidences (In Brief, 2010).

It is very important for the investigators to assist the witnesses in dispelling fear for an effective trial. Otherwise, the case would take longer than expected. Since the wish of the Criminal Justice System is to complete a case within the shortest time possible, it is clear that the investigators have quite an uphill task.


Post a Comment