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Do you get paid when subpoenaed to be a witness?

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#1 27plus

Posted 24 August 2019 - 12:03 AM

Heading says it all?

Subpoenaed to be a witness in criminal trial

For the third time.

For the same trial.

Interstate witness. Police paying for airfares.

Witness has to pay for travel to and from airport and accommodation for three days and has to take annual leave or LWOP from employer.

#2 MurderBritches

Posted 24 August 2019 - 12:49 AM

My DH was paid but he was an expert in his field at the time so was paid a daily rate. He also had expenses paid but paid for his own meals that were not client  related.

#3 27plus

Posted 24 August 2019 - 01:07 AM

Not an expert. A subpoenaed witness. So can't not present otherwise would be charged (?)/fined (whatever).

#4 Ellie bean

Posted 24 August 2019 - 01:25 AM

For a civil trial, we would pay your lost wages but I don’t know what happens in a criminal trial sorry- I would ring the police and ask

#5 27plus

Posted 24 August 2019 - 01:34 AM

View PostEllie bean, on 24 August 2019 - 01:25 AM, said:

For a civil trial, we would pay your lost wages but I don’t know what happens in a criminal trial sorry- I would ring the police and ask

Asked police and not answered.  Appears to be a grey area.

First subpoena they paid and picked up at airport and drove to court (hour trip). Trial didn't go ahead (dont know the term).

Second one. Subpoenaed. Organise time off, police book flights, case delayed (whatever term) so no travel.

This is the third try.   Police pay for airfares but it is now oh you can get from airport to court, and pay for your accommodation.

It is not me who is the witness by the way.

#6 Ellie bean

Posted 24 August 2019 - 02:27 AM

Might be worth the person ringing the court and asking what a witnesses rights are- good luck, I hope someone has better answers

#7 ~Kay~

Posted 24 August 2019 - 03:25 AM


I'm not sure which state, you're travelling too. But some info for NSW.

Got paid a very small allowance that didn't cover my actual wages and a travel allowance for car travel.

#8 gracie1978

Posted 24 August 2019 - 06:44 AM


#9 Tinkle Splashes

Posted 24 August 2019 - 07:44 AM

I was subpoenaed as a witness in a criminal trial last year. It was local so I didn’t have travel expenses. Took me out of my workplace for half a day, but my work didn’t make me take leave (the trial was somewhat related to my work though). So I didn’t get paid for anything, but also didn’t have reason to ask to be paid for anything.

#10 Lucrezia Borgia

Posted 24 August 2019 - 08:29 AM

years ago when i was a para legal we would serve subpoenas and give what we would call “conduct money” - basically a small amount to cover the cost of complying - travel expenses mainly. it’s a fine line i guess because if you offer too much money it could be seen as an inducement to testify - whereas it’s really a duty - under the law - if the subpoena is valid you have to comply.

#11 Feral-as-Meggs

Posted 24 August 2019 - 08:39 AM

Is it possible that there has been some miscommunication?   The witness should be reimbursed for reasonable travel, accomodation and meal allowance.

This is for civil matters, but I usually have a talk with witnesses about what they want to do - eg have me make all the arrangements or come up with their own plan which suits them best, and run it by me, with reimbursement after the fact.

It’s about 50/50 what they choose.   Is it possible the police are asking the witness to do that?

The other thing that happens is that I may have a good idea the case will settle- but I can’t say that to the witness.   So I may be punting that there will be no travel, and put off making the firm arrangements.    But the witness wants to make arrangements in advance which is understandable.    So that can create tension between how much notice is reasonable, and how much is  a personality thing.  

I’ve had issues in the past with witnesses putting in inflated claims.  Eg $200 for Thai food that turned out to be massage. Or making unrealistic demands, for example a chauffeur driven car rather than taking a train/plane from a regional area. If you want that then you need a doctor’s letter.  One person said a mate would drive them, then wanted $100 an hour for the mate including waiting time (plus ATO mileage).  

One way to sort it out is to email the judges associate or court the statement of expenses and a copy of what the lawyer/police responded, with a cc to them    You should find the contact details on the court website.  Most judges have a fit if witnesses aren’t treated properly.

#12 Coffeegirl

Posted 24 August 2019 - 09:20 AM

Been a long time since I was a witness, but I lived in Adelaide, case was in Sydney.  I was the victim in the case as well.

They paid for airfares for myself and husband (he witnessed it and was called up as well) and reimbursed us for a hotel room up to $x amount and gave us $50 each, per day required in court, to cover food and incidentals.    

From memory there was a office at the court that we had to deal with to get the cheque’s after we finished our testimony

And as my injuries hadn’t healed yet, we were both flown business class as well

Found this for NSW https://www.odpp.nsw...itness-expenses

#13 Fossy

Posted 24 August 2019 - 10:02 AM

I was just sounded out about this last week. I spoke to a SApol detective, he stated flights, accommodation  transfers, meals and lost wages would be covered.
I am one of many victims so told him I’d rather not testify if avoidable as have small kids to organise, so no actual subpoena as per yet.
I’m guessing it varies state to state though.

#14 TinMan

Posted 24 August 2019 - 10:40 AM

In Qld you should not be paying for accommodation, airfare, transfers from the airport that should all be arranged by the arresting officer on your behalf. And like LB said up thread even if you're summonsed to court locally you should be offered conduct money, though in practice it's usually reimbursed as "witness expenses" after the fact. I can't help you about lost wages, I don't think they are covered but I could be wrong.

#15 27plus

Posted 24 August 2019 - 11:32 AM

Thanks for all the information.  I will speak to her again.

She will have to take either LWOP or use her annual leave (3 days). She can't not appear.

They are paying flights but that is all.

If it was a one off this would be fine.  But seeing the trial has been delayed twice before I think it is taking advantage of a person (although she is happy to do it). Hopefully this time it wont be delayed again.

#16 Goldenash

Posted 24 August 2019 - 11:38 AM

It is state dependent but it is usually ‘reasonable expenses’. Flights is insufficient. I would be getting her put in writing her reasonable expenses and asking them when she will be paid.

Pp comment about conduct money is correct. And it should be given at the time of service of the subpoena so she can absolutely ask for it prior to her departure.

#17 Feral-as-Meggs

Posted 24 August 2019 - 12:42 PM

Thing is, the flights are the most expensive so there is probably no intention to rip her off.  But it’s also the thing that’s easy for the party to organise because they know exactly what is required and there isn’t much (if any) choice.  

It’s much more tricky to organise transfers, accommodation, time off work, childcare for a witness off my own bat: as the lawyer I have no idea what works for the witness.   And I need paperwork for all of it.

It’s very easy to just assume all is fine unless the witness puts in for a particular expense.  

You may find she just needs to send it in, with her bank account details.

#18 LiveLife

Posted 24 August 2019 - 12:52 PM

Surely these days this could all be done via video link.... are courts not up with technology?

#19 TinMan

Posted 24 August 2019 - 02:06 PM

View PostLiveLife, on 24 August 2019 - 12:52 PM, said:

Surely these days this could all be done via video link.... are courts not up with technology?

Yes, video link is used in Qld, most commonly having people who are in prison appear on the video to save the costs associated with transporting, among other issues.

But the use of this technology for witnesses is not wide spread in my experience. The opportunity to cross examine someone in the same room, to watch their body language and cues in real time is different than through the medium of video.

Special witnesses like children, or some defined complainants can give evidence and be cross examined via the video, creating a distance between them and the defendant.

It's just not the default position for witnesses, in my experience.

#20 Holidayromp

Posted 26 August 2019 - 06:41 AM

View Post27plus, on 24 August 2019 - 11:32 AM, said:

Thanks for all the information.  I will speak to her again.

She will have to take either LWOP or use her annual leave (3 days). She can't not appear.

They are paying flights but that is all.

If it was a one off this would be fine.  But seeing the trial has been delayed twice before I think it is taking advantage of a person (although she is happy to do it). Hopefully this time it wont be delayed again.

That’s all well and nice for them but if they are going through legal channels for force someone to testify they they need to make sure the person is reasonably reimbursed.

The way this family and it’s finances work there is no way we could afford to be out of pocket at all plus family needs come before a bloody court case that has zero to do with them.  My time plus all costs related to me going, being there and returning including my husband having to take his precious leave will all have to be reimbursed.

I know you have come to the collective minds of EB to solve help solve your friend’s issue but just paying for the airfares is taking the p*ss.  I would be asking in writing if airfares is all that will be covered and asking them how the rest of the costs will be covered ie accomodation, meal and other out of pocket expenses like transfers, hire vehicle and taxis where required.

I know this is different than jury duty but not many people would have that sort of money lying around to pay up from either - what happens in these cases?

#21 Tinkle Splashes

Posted 26 August 2019 - 09:02 AM

View PostLiveLife, on 24 August 2019 - 12:52 PM, said:

Surely these days this could all be done via video link.... are courts not up with technology?

I agree with Tinman’s comments about this. Also, it is not necessarily a lot cheaper. The party using the technology has to hire a room and videoconference service provider with a particular type of secure connection. There needs to be someone from the service provider there the whole time. The court charges a fee for its end too. Flights and accommodation are often comparable price-wise.

#22 SelceLisbeth

Posted 26 August 2019 - 03:00 PM

Havent read the whole thread so apologies if it hasbeen mentioned already, but these days Subpoenaed witnesses in criminal trials are often enabled to attend via video link (cheaper for everyone involved). The police member who served you should be able to help, but if you arent having much luck, you cna also contact the court registrar and enquire.

#23 seayork2002

Posted 26 August 2019 - 03:14 PM

I think they can do video link but an application has to be made and from a court house ie not sat at home on skype?

#24 SelceLisbeth

Posted 26 August 2019 - 03:50 PM

Kind of. It can be done in most police stations as well, We often make our videolink software available at our hospital, I have heard of a library conference room being booked (Or maybe it was a conference room at council offices)

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