Office of the State Attorney
10th Judicial Circuit
State Attorney Brian Haas
Serving Polk, Highlands, and Hardee Counties

Victim and Witness Information

There are few things in life more stressful than being the victim of a crime. This information will explain your rights as a victim and provide you with information concerning the criminal justice system and services provided by this office and other agencies.

Your cooperation is essential to a successful prosecution. We look forward to working with you and if at any time you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Tips For Witnesses
You are a witness because you have seen, heard, or know something about a crime. If you are the victim of a violent crime or owner of property stolen, damaged or misused, the case may not be prosecuted unless you testify. You may not think that what you know about the case is significant, but it may be highly important. Many small pieces of information are often required to determine what happened.

To prevent delay and possible dismissal of a case, witnesses must be present when asked to appear. We must be able to contact you, so it is important that you keep our office informed of your present address, telephone numbers, and plans you have for vacation. Please give the Assistant State Attorney or your Victim Advocate this information as soon as possible.
  1. Dress neatly and conservatively for Court.
  2. Do not memorize your testimony, but try to review the facts before the trial.
  3. Relax, speak loudly and clearly, directing your answers to the jury.
  4. Be polite when answering questions. Do not lose your temper.
  5. Listen carefully to each question before answering.
  6. If you do not understand the question, say so.
  7. If you do not have an answer, say so. Do not guess.
  8. If your answer needs an explanation, say so, and then explain.
  9. If you make a mistake in answering a question, say so and correct it.
  10. Give a well thought out answer.
  11. Give positive definite answers when possible, avoiding answers such as "I think,", "I believe," or "I guess so."
  12. Do not volunteer information. Give short answers if that is what is called for: "yes" or "no", if that is what is appropriate.
  13. Do not chew gum on the witness stand.
  14. Be on your best behavior in and around the courtroom. When court is not in session, jurors may be in the corridors, elevators, etc.
  15. Do not discuss your testimony with other witnesses.
  16. Do not make statements to the media prior to or during a trial without first checking with the Assistant State Attorney.
  17. Tell the truth.
Victim Impact Statement

This is a statement made either verbally or in writing to the Court before sentence is imposed. In the statement, the victim may describe the effect the crime has had on his or her family and the emotional and financial losses that he or she may have suffered. If you have questions or need assistance in preparing a Victim Impact Statement, a Victim Advocate will be available to assist you. Please call (863)534-4800 for assistance.

This form can be printed, then completed with the requested information. The Victim Impact Statement form must be notarized and mailed to this address:

Office of the State Attorney, 10th Circuit
Drawer SA, P.O. Box 9000
Bartow, FL 33831-9000

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