Since most people are not familiar with courtrooms and court proceedings, we in the United States Attorney's Office would like to give you some general information about preparing for court and some suggestions about testifying.
We hope this information will answer any questions you may have and make you more comfortable about the entire process.
What If The Defendant's Attorney Or Investigator Asks To Talk To Me?
You have the right to decide whether you want to discuss the case with any attorney or investigator for either the United States or the defense. Be sure you know who you are talking to when you discuss the case. Don't be afraid to ask for identification. If you decide to speak about the case, tell the truth.
What Will Happen If I Fail To Appear?
If you fail to appear, you may be cited for contempt of court. An arrest warrant could be issued.
Where Do I Go?
Your subpoena will indicate where, when, and in what room the proceedings will take place. Please note: at the majority of court proceedings witnesses are not allowed to enter the courtroom until they are called upon to testify. Therefore, it is important that you be directly outside the courtroom or waiting in the witness waiting room next to the courtroom.
Where Can I Park?
Please call the Victim Witness Coordinator as to parking instructions. You will be reimbursed for this expense. There is also short term metered parking on the streets around the courthouse. However, we recommend you park in the parking garage, if available, due to the fact that we WILL NOT reimburse you for any parking tickets you may receive.
How Long Will I Be In Court?
It is impossible to predict how long witnesses will testify at trial. It is important that you arrange your schedule to permit maximum flexibility. You may have to wait to testify for several hours or more. You may want to bring reading materials, or something else to occupy your time, while you wait to testify.
What Should I Do With My Children?
Try to find a relative, friend, or neighbor to care for your children. However, you should make sure that he/she has a flexible schedule, due to the fact that you don't know when you will be released from your subpoena. In some instances, child care expenses are reimbursed. If you have questions concerning this, please feel free to contact the Victim-Witness Coordinator.
Will I Have To Bring Anything With Me?
If you need to bring anything as evidence, you will be instructed to do so in the subpoena.
Is Food Available?
While there are soda, and snack machines located in the courthouse, there is no cafeteria. However, there are several restaurants located quite close to the courthouse. You will need to bring money for meals, since reimbursement will be sent to you at a later date.
Will I Be Paid For My Time Spent As A Witness?
If you are not a federal government employee, you will receive $40.00 for each day you are required to be in court or attend a pretrial interview, including travel days. YOU WILL NOT BE REIMBURSED FOR LOST WAGES! You will be reimbursed 56 cents per mile for transportation if you drive. If you incur parking, tolls, or taxi expenses, a receipt is required for reimbursement. You will receive a meal allowance, if you have an overnight stay. IF YOU TRAVEL TO COURT AND RETURN HOME THE SAME DAY, YOU WILL NOT RECEIVE A MEAL ALLOWANCE. To fill out the Fact Witness Voucher for reimbursement you must check-in with the Victim-Witness Coordinator. You will receive payment by mail usually within 14 working days.
What If I Am Threatened By The Defendant Or Others?
Threatening a witness is a separate federal crime. Accordingly, it happens much less than you would think. In emergency situations call the police immediately. In other instances, contact the Assistant United States Attorney assigned to the case, the Victim-Witness Coordinator, or the case agent.
What About My Employer?
Many witnesses question how to approach their employer about their absence from work during their testimony. If requested, we will contact your employer and outline your responsibility as a subpoenaed federal witness. Employers may not retaliate against you because of your absence.
Where Can I Go If I Have Questions Or Need Help?
The Victim-Witness Coordinator will be glad to help in any way possible. If you have any problems or questions, please feel free to contact her at the numbers listed above.