A witness for the defense can provide important testimony for the accused. The witness may provide an alibi defense, testifying that the accused could not have committed the crime because the accused was with them at that particular date and time. The witness may corroborate the recollection of the accused as to the series of events and observations that took place surrounding the crime and contradict the prosecution witnesses, calling the credibility of the prosecution witnesses into question. Further, a defense witness may be able to provide conclusive evidence as to the innocence of the accused by providing testimony or physical evidence that the crime was committed by someone else.

Often times, defense witnesses come to court willingly to show their support for the accused. However, sometimes a particular witness is reluctant to testify. Even if the witness wants to do the right thing, he or she may be embarrassed or afraid of possible publicity; whatever the reason, if the witness is at all reluctant to come to court, the accused should motion the judge to issue a subpoena for the witness. This will give the accused the support of the state to ensure the appearance of the witness. A subpoena should be served onto the witness personally as in hand to hand delivery or served by certified mail, return receipt requested. Once the subpoena for appearance is served by one of these methods, the court can use its powers to further enforce the order. When a witness ignores a properly served subpoena, the accused should ask the court to find the witness in contempt of court and ask the court to compel the witness to appear by issuing a bench warrant for the immediate arrest of the witness.

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