What Happens if the Witness does not come to the settlement docket?


Image credits to Malik Earnest @resolvxd.


Hi guys. This is attorney Jef Goldtrap. What happens if the State’s witness is not in court on the settlement date.


Remember in most counties there is a settlement, discussion or plea date and another date set for trial. In Nashville, you will see a General Sessions “settlement” date. In Criminal Court you will see a “discussion” date. In many nearby counties, you will see “disposition” or “settlement” dates on the docket. This a chance for the Defendant and the State to work out a settlement of the criminal case.


A question came up recently. The state says they are going to call person X who saw the crime. Maybe person X is the one who was assaulted or injured in some way. What happens if they do not come to the “settlement” court date? What if they do not come to the “discussion” date?


Some people will tell you “if the witness or “victim” is not in court the case has to be dismissed.” Are they right?


No! You are wrong. The witness or victim does not have to be in court unless they are subpoenaed to be in court. In Nashville, Robertson, Sumner, Cheatham, Rutherford and most other counties the witness or victim is not subpoenaed to be in court on that first court date.


Since they are not required to be in court we cannot ask the State to dismiss the case because they are not there. The first court date is usually designed to reach a settlement or plea.


You have a Constitutional right to confront and cross-examine anyone who is accusing you of committing a crime. You can ask them questions. You can make them swear to tell the truth. You can make them take the witness stand. You can do this but they will not be in court on the settlement or discussion date. You will have to get another date. You will ask for a trial date.


You mean if the witness is not at the first court date the case is not over? Yes. This is exactly what I mean. If you want your case over as soon as possible enter a plea on the first court date. If you are saying that you cannot plead guilty then you need a trial. You may want the State to dismiss the case. They can dismiss but you cannot demand a dismissal if the witness is not in court on the first date.


I hope I have answered your question. If you I have created more questions just reach out and ask me. Call my office. Email me. Send me a message in FaceBook.


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I am here to help.


Thanks

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