For witnesses

Almost 100,000 people are called to testify in the Swedish courts each year. The general obligation to give evidence exists to help the courts reach the correct verdict.

On this page:

  1. You have an obligation to give evidence
  2. Witness support and protection
  3. As a witness, you are under oath
  4. It’s illegal to lie or withhold facts under oath

You have an obligation to give evidence

In Sweden we have a general obligation to give evidence. This means that anyone with significant knowledge relating to an investigation is obliged to testify in court if the prosecutor or the defendant or the defence counsel deem it necessary. So, as a private individual you are not at liberty to decide whether or not you wish to give evidence. Exceptions are only granted to those who, for example, are closely related to the suspect.

Witness support and protection

If you are worried about testifying, help and support are available. Many courts are able to provide witness support in the form of someone to support you in court. There are also separate waiting rooms for witnesses.

You can apply for witness support by contacting the district court before the hearing. Ask the court if and what kind of witness support is available in that particular district court.

As a witness, you are under oath

When you are called as a witness in a trial you will be asked to take the following oath before you testify:

“I N.N. promise and affirm on my honour and conscience that I shall speak the whole truth and will not conceal, add, or change anything.”

It’s illegal to lie or withhold facts under oath

If you violate your oath by lying or withholding facts you are guilty of the crime of perjury. The normal penalty for perjury is imprisonment. There is a difference between perjury and refusing to answer a question during the main hearing. A witness who refuses to answer a question may be remanded in custody.

The maximum penalty for perjury is four years in prison.

Someone who has not taken the oath but is under affirmation of truth and who then lies during a trial is guilty of the crime of untrue statement by a party.