INFORMATION TO KNOW ABOUT
TRIAL AND PROSECUTING YOUR CASE IN THE JUSTICE OF THE PEACE COURTS
In the Justice of the Peace Courts,
you, the victim, will be prosecuting your own case if you signed the
warrant against the defendant. There will not be a prosecutor from
the Attorney General's Office assigned to your case. Delaware law
prohibits private prosecution of criminal cases. A private attorney
may accompany you to court and help you prepare your case, but the
attorney may not speak for you.
If the police signed the warrant on
your behalf, the officer will take responsibility for prosecuting
the case. You will be called as a witness.
Below are questions commonly asked
about trial in the Justice of the Peace Court:
Q. How do I get witnesses of
the crime to come to court on the day of trial?
A. You must go to the Justice of the Peace Court AT LEAST 2 WEEKS
prior to the trial date to fill out a witness list and request that
subpoenas be issued. Your witnesses will then receive a subpoena,
which requires them to appear for trial. Unless the police officer
saw the crime take place, he or she does not need to be subpoenaed.
Q. What happens if I ask for
a witness to be subpoenaed and they don't show up on the day of
A. Anyone subpoenaed by the court who fails to appear can have a
warrant issued for his or her arrest. Witnessed cannot just ignore a
Q. If a witness can't come to
court to testify, can they send a notarized statement to the court
A. Written statements, even notarized statements, are not allowed in
court. They can't be used instead of in-person testimony. You should
ask for a subpoena to be issued for all the witnesses you need for
Q. What if I or one of my
witnesses cannot come to court on the assigned date and time?
A. If you cannot appear on the date and time that trial is
scheduled, please call the court where your trial will take place as
soon as you receive the trial notice. Only in cases of genuine
emergency will trials be rescheduled (called "continued")
within 72 hours of the original trial. Trials cannot be continued
for witnesses, so check the date and time with your witnesses as
soon as you receive your notice.
Q. What kinds of paperwork
should I bring to court?
A. Make sure you bring any hospital or doctor bills if you received
medical treatment because of the crime. Bring any insurance
estimates or receipts if you property was stolen or damaged because
of the crime.
Q. Can I bring up other court
cases which involved this defendant and myself?
A. Bring to trial all documents and papers you have about any court
hearings involving you and the defendant. Although other crimes are
not normally allowed as evidence in court, there are some
circumstances in which this information may be important.
TWO WEEKS BEFORE TRIAL:
Once you are in the witness stand,
explain clearly what happened, when, and how. Indicate the
defendant as the person you charged by pointing him or her out
to the judge. Make sure that you state that the offense happened
in New Castle, Kent or Sussex County, Delaware. Include the date
and time that the crime took place. You may write information
down on paper and take it with you to the witness stand if that
will help you. This is the time to enter any evidence you may
have (telephone records, receipts for medical bills or repair
expanses, letters, etc) to the court, by presenting this to the
When all of your witnesses have
finished testifying, the defendant may take the witness stand,
be sworn in, and testify. When he or she is finished, you may
cross-examine the defendant. The defense witnesses will then be
allowed to testify, and you may cross-examine them when they
Once closing statements have been
made, the judge will make a decision on the case. If the
defendant is found guilty, the judge may ask you for any input
in the sentencing process. You may ask for restitution for the
amount of the bills, or that the judge order the defendant to
have no contact with you for an amount of time. The sentence,
and any special conditions attached to it, are ultimately the
decision of the judge.
IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, OR
ARE HAVING AN ONGOING PROBLEM WITH THE SAME DEFENDANT, PLEASE CALL
THIS OFFICE AT:
& SUSSEX COUNTIES
NEW CASTLE COUNTY
OUT OF STATE
302-577-2326, EXT. 5091
302-577-2326, EXT. 5091