When, as a casualty investigator, interviewing witness...two important points we had to contend with:
1. Emotion and adrenaline factor...something that still so many reading this page believe will not affect them...
Had a significant effect on what they were able to distinguish, how their brain tagged the details it sensed through the eyes, ears, etc. to words.
2. Many people refused to be interviewed for fear of reprisal one way or another, or fear of being systematically destroyed emotionally by a defense attorney or prosecutor when testifying.
But there is something more sinister:
Some points from reality on being a witness. (Specially in states where your human right to own weapons and use them for self-defense is denied).
The crime goes down, and you decide to be a good witness. The cops arrive and will get all your personal info. In places like LA they will also run your for warrants and such (if you are a wanted man, do not be any kind of witness).
That personal info will be written into a police report and will become public information. Will the bad guys get a copy of the report? You bet your sweet gazzippies the attorney representing them will demand it. Will your name be on it? It depends if the officer releasing the copy or the DA handing it over black it out or not...my experience has been they do not.
So would you walk over to the murderer you are planning to testify against and hand him your driver's license? No? Hmmmm. That is in effect what you will do.
Think the cops will protect you? Do we really need to go into that???
Another thing, unless the bad guy admits he was caught red handed and does not contest the charges, it will inevitably go to trial. Every single time it does, you will be subpoenad and be required to show up. How much time can you take away from work? Justice is much more important than your mortgage...sorry.
I am not saying NEVER to be a witness, but understand the baggage that comes with it. There are very few events I will intervene in that do not directly involve me, and fewer that I will volunteer as a witness. That is my personal perspective on it. Sorry to burst any bubbles.
~ Gabe Suarez
One witness,in a case of negligent homicide that I handled, collapsed and died while in court waiting to be called to the stand. The stress is considerable.