Frequently Asked Questions
In order for a defendant to be found guilty of the charges that he/she faces, the State must prove every element of a criminal charge through the presentation of evidence. Much of that evidence comes from witness testimony. The State bears the burden of proving the defendant guilty at trial. Witnesses are required to appear because in most cases the State does not know whether a case will be a trial until the day of court. If we receive information prior to court that a case will not be a trial and that witnesses do not need to appear in court, we make every effort to notify witnesses ahead of time to let them know that they do not need to appear in court. Please remember to call the Witness Call-Off Number at 410-386-2360 after 5 pm the night before you are to appear as a State’s witness in court.
If you received a subpoena to come to court and you are unsure of your involvement in the case please contact our office directly and speak to the prosecutor assigned to the case. A subpoena is issued for anyone who is related to a criminal investigation where charges are initiated. If a person is mentioned in a police report he/she will receive a subpoena from our office to appear in court for trial.
Unfortunately, written statements or affidavits are not admissible in lieu of a witness appearing in court. The Constitution requires that a defendant charged with a crime has the right to confront his/her “accusers.” “Accusers” are considered anyone who could provide testimony or evidence for the State at trial. Therefore, the State is required to produce in court any witnesses who may testify at trial. Therefore, the State is required to produce at trial the actual witness to testify versus written statements or affidavits.
The Carroll County State’s Attorney’s Office cannot provide legal advice on whether or not a person needs an attorney. However, if you are subpoenaed as a victim or witness, the only requirements that you have in coming to court is to testify honestly and completely. If you are concerned about testifying in court, please contact our office directly and speak to the specific prosecutor handling the case in which you are subpoenaed.
If you are the victim of a crime and do not wish to pursue the charges you can send a written statement to our office requesting that the charges be dropped. Your statement will be attached to the case file and will be forwarded to the prosecutor handling the case. Your request to not pursue the charges will be considered in determining what an appropriate outcome is for the case. Other factors that we consider in determining the appropriate outcome for a case include the defendant’s dangerousness to the community, the defendant’s possibility to reoffend, the motive for the crime and the best interest of the community as a whole. JUST BECAUSE YOU SUBMIT A WRITTEN STATEMENT REQUESTING THAT THE CHARGES BE DROPPED DOES NOT MEAN THAT THE CASE WILL BE DROPPED. Unless you receive notice that you do not need to come to court you are still required to appear for trial.