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What is a Deposition

This information can help you understand what to do if you receive a subpoena to give a deposition in a case.

A deposition is a recorded statement that is given under oath. This helps the lawyer who subpoenaed you get more background information about a case he will try in court.

Although every deposition is different, there are some basic questions you will be asked. You may have already given a police officer a written or taped statement about what you know so you may be wondering why you must repeat the information.   All the evidence and statements have been reviewed and now the State Attorney’s Office files formal charges against the defendant. The defendant’s attorney now has the right to ask you specific questions about what you may have seen or said. This way the defense attorney gets more details about the incident.

If you have given a written statement before, you may read it before your formal deposition. If you gave a taped statement, you can listen to it again or ask for a transcript if it is available. Please call a few days before your scheduled date of your deposition and tell the Assistant State Attorney that you would like to review your previous statement.

In most cases, the defense attorney and the prosecutor who is handling the case will be present in the deposition room with you. A court reporter may also be there but sometimes the deposition is recorded electronically. The defendant will not be there.

If you cannot be at the deposition on the day it is scheduled, please call the attorney who has subpoenaed you. The date, time and location along with the attorney’s name and contact information who subpoenaed you will be on the subpoena you receive.

Remember that a subpoena is the same thing as a court order, so you must be there on the day you are subpoenaed. However, most attorneys will work with you if you have a legitimate reason that you cannot be there on the scheduled date. Keep in mind that attorneys have court hearings, office conferences and other depositions, so please don’t ask to be rescheduled for your deposition unless it is absolutely necessary.

Here are a few things you might find helpful:

  • Always tell the truth. You are under oath.
  • Listen carefully to the question the lawyer will ask you and answer this specific question.  If either lawyer wants you to tell him additional things, he will let you know.
  • If you need a bathroom break, don’t be shy about asking.
  • Please arrive a few minutes early. Usually, there are other witnesses who have to give their deposition and your promptness will allow everyone to keep their schedules.
  • If you have any special needs or questions about where you should park, or anything else, please just call us.  The State Attorney’s Office main number is 561-355-7100.  Make sure to have your subpoena in front of you when you call so you can refer to the case when making your call.