What To Do If You Witness A Crime
You can take precautions against becoming a victim of crime. You can choose not to engage in a life of crime. Whether or not you witness a crime, however, is generally down to luck. You can, however, prepare for the possibility. Here is a quick guide to help.
Always secure your own safety first
People stopping criminals in their tracks makes for great news headlines. In reality, however, tackling suspected criminals is very risky. First of all, you may be totally wrong about what is happening. Secondly, you can end up putting yourself into serious, possibly fatal, danger. You have to judge each situation as you find it. Just be sure to put your own safety first.
Call for help immediately
Call for the priority service and they will alert any other services they need. For example, if someone needs urgent medical attention, ask for an ambulance. The dispatcher will alert the police. Similarly, if there is a fire, call the fire service, they will alert both the ambulance service and the police (if necessary).
Give any help you safely can
The emergency services will tell you anything they need you to do. If they don’t then you can check yourself to see if there’s any way you can help anyone who needs it. For example, even if you’ve never formally learned first aid or CPR, it’s easy to look up instructions online. Remember, however, put your own safety first.
Record everything quickly
Up until now, you’ve been responding to circumstances. Now you need to be proactive and record everything you can think of while it’s still fresh in your mind. Cellphones (and tables) have made this process massively easier. Firstly, they have notes apps and voice recorders. That means you can collect your own thoughts in whatever way suits you best.
Secondly, they have cameras so you can take photos of anything that might be relevant. Again, take them from a safe distance. Remember to avoid disturbing anything the police might want to look at. Try to capture as many details as you can. The police and the lawyers can decide what is and isn’t relevant.
Your phone will probably have a location function, if you’re comfortable with it, turn it on. Also try to photograph any details which show the location, e.g. street signs. Where relevant try to show scale. The easiest way to do this is to show a familiar item in the photo. This can be something out of your pocket like a car key or a coin.
Be prepared for a court appearance
Many charges are settled by plea agreements, so there is a fairly high chance you will not need to go to court. If you do, however, you need to treat the matter seriously but calmly. Real court trials have very little in common with the ones on TV dramas.
Top law firms like Spodek Law Group do not specialize in tearing witnesses into emotional shreds. Apart from anything else, no judge would let them. You’re just going to be asked questions about what happened. All you need to do is answer them as best as you can and if you don’t know or don’t remember just say so.