You can ask the court for a continuance (delay) if you are facing criminal charges and one of your witnesses is missing. Here are three things the court may require you to prove before it grants your petition:

You Have Done Your Best to Locate the Missing Witness

You have to show the court what you have done to try to locate the missing witness. You have to convince the court that you have done your best, but failed to locate the missing witness. Attempts to locate a missing witness may include

  • Talking to their friends, family members, and work colleagues
  • Researching public records, such as voter records
  • Making inquiries at licensing agencies, such as professional licensing agencies
  • Using online resources, including social media sites

You Did Not Cause the Witness' Disappearance

There are several ways in which a defendant can cause a witness to disappear. For example, you can threaten the witness, promise them money if they fail to show up, fail to furnish them with the means (such as transportation costs) to appear in court or fail to furnish them with the court's address. A defendant may do this, for example, if they want a continuance at all costs. Unfortunately, the court will dismiss your petition for continuance if they can prove that you are responsible for the witness' disappearance. If you are the reason the witness is missing, then who is to say that you just want to delay the court process for your own benefit?

The Witness' Testimony Is Crucial

A witness testimony is crucial if it can have a significant impact on the trial. For example, if four people can confirm that they were with you at home at the time that the prosecution claims that you were seen robbing a store, then you don't need all of them to proceed with the case. Therefore, if one of the witnesses is missing, you aren't likely to get a continuance because the missing witness isn't crucial since the rest can provide the same testimony. However, if there is only person who can provide your alibi, then their testimony is crucial since its presence or absence can change the outcome of the case.

 As you can see, it's not a walk in the park, and it isn't something you are likely to succeed at alone. If you don't have a lawyer yet, get one as soon as you realize your witness is missing. More more information and help with your case, contact a lawyer like Jeffrey Wiggs, Law P.A. for a consultation meeting.