If you are a witness
People who are able to say whether they saw or heard anything connected with the crime is often necessary for solving the crime. A witness is a person who has seen or heard something connected with the crime.
In Sweden, there is a general obligation to serve as a witness. That means that witnesses must give evidence in court. In order to ascertain what has occurred, the police call the witness for questioning. The questioning is done by one or two people in the investigation team. These people are normally police officers.
Take the letter calling you for questioning, which will state an office address and the name of the person who is to question you. Report to the reception and give the name of the person you are to meet. Please remember to take some ID – a passport or driving licence.
Giving evidence in court
You give evidence to help the court to arrive at the right decision – not to put someone away or protect someone. The court just wants you to turn up and say what you know. What you know may be important and extremely significant for the court's decision.
It is important that you turn up at the right place and at the right time, not just to enable the court to arrive at the right decision, but also because proceedings cost society a great deal of money.
If you do not turn up, the case may be adjourned. That does not mean that the case will be abandoned. Instead, you and all the other parties concerned will be called to another hearing.
You may be forced to pay a fine or risk being brought in by the police if you do not turn up. You may even be forced to pay costs for others who did turn up at court. If you have difficulties getting to the court, you should call or write to inform the court immediately.
Inform the court immediately if you suddenly fall ill. In that case, you must show a doctor’s certificate. Work or holidays are not considered as valid excuses. Please take the summons with you to the court.
In order to confirm to the court that you have received the summons to the proceedings, you must sign and return the letter of reply accompanying the summons. This is known as “serving” at the court.
Giving evidence in proceedings means that you will speak under oath. That means that you must tell the truth and that you may not withhold information. You may be sent to prison or be ordered to pay a fine if you do not tell the truth.
If you are uncomfortable or frightened
Many people feel uncomfortable before going to court. You may perhaps never have been inside a court before. This usually wears off during questioning.
If you are frightened of anyone or if you find it particularly difficult to give evidence when a particular person is present, you should contact the court in good time before the proceedings. The court can issue an order that the person you are afraid of should not be present during questioning.