You may be subpoenaed to testify as a witness in a case if you are a victim, saw what happened, or have other information related to the case. Testifying in court often means a sacrifice in time and expense, but the criminal justice system cannot operate without your cooperation. Please be assured that you have been subpoenaed because your testimony is needed. If you have been personally served with a subpoena, there may be serious consequences to you if you do not appear.
If You Are Subpoenaed by the District Attorney
Your subpoena will tell you the date and time to appear in court. Unless you are instructed otherwise, you should report to the District Attorney's Office at the time indicated on the subpoena where you will be directed to the proper courtroom. This will also give you time before going to court to talk with the Deputy District Attorney assigned to the case if you wish and get some idea of what you will be asked in court.
Cases may be reset (postponed) on very short notice and there is often not sufficient time to notify witnesses. Therefore, if you have received a Criminal Action Subpoena from the District Attorney's Office you are urged to call the number given on the subpoena after 5:00 p.m. on the day before your scheduled appearance. A tape recording will list all cases still scheduled for the next day. If you do not hear the name of the defendant for whose case you were subpoenaed, you need not appear. Our recorded message lines are (503) 846-3520 for criminal subpoenas and (503) 846-4711 if you have been subpoenaed to appear in a Juvenile Court case.
If you have received a Grand Jury Subpoena, you will need to appear as subpoenaed, and will not need to call the recorded message.
More About Grand Jury
The grand jury is a group of seven citizens who are selected from the jury pool to hear evidence on crimes committed in Washington County. After hearing the testimony of the witnesses, the grand jury decides whether or not to issue an indictment (file charges) against the defendant. Grand jury proceedings are not held in a courtroom and no judge is present. Under most circumstances, the only persons permitted to attend the grand jury hearing are the grand jurors, the District Attorney and the witnesses, who testify one at a time. Neither the defendant nor the defendant's attorney is allowed to be present while witnesses are testifying.
There are specific rules of court procedure and etiquette. Please do not bring infants and small children to court. Also, please turn off all cell phones and do not bring any food or drinks into the courtroom, including chewing gum. Please wear appropriate attire. If you wear shorts, tank tops, or halter tops, you may not be allowed in the courtroom. Our Information for Witnesses brochure (English or Spanish ) outlines what you can expect when you have been subpoenaed to testify.