Frequently Asked Questions
What should I do if I get a subpoena for a criminal trial?
Read the entire document carefully. It is chock full of information.
The vast majority of criminal court subpoenas advise you of when the criminal trial term begins and ends. It is a two-week session and the case you received a subpoena for may go to trial during that two-week period.
The subpoena will also tell you who the defendant is and the docket number that has been assigned to that case. This information is at the top. At the bottom of the subpoena the day the subpoena was prepared is shown.
Should I come to the day's office the first day that is listed on the subpoena?
NO. If the subpoena says that the trial has not yet been scheduled, call the phone number given when you get the subpoena. Someone will let you know what the status of this case is at that time. The subpoena may let you know when the trial will take place if a date certain is known, in either case, call the number given when you receive the subpoena.
Many cases are subpoenaed that end up not going to trial due to pleas or other resolutions prior to going to trial. The cases are subpoenaed in the event a plea or other resolution is not reached. This is to give you notice that this case is coming up for a resolution; whether it be a plea, a trial, or something else. A phone call to the D.A.'s office can save some worry.
How will I know what day I need to go to the courthouse for a trial?
One of the county detectives who works in the D.A.'s office will call you. The goal is to give you as much advance notice as possible. Unfortunately, it seems that the best that can be done is 1 or 2 days notice. We are deeply aware of and concerned about the inconvenience this can cause. However, nothing is ever certain when it comes to the trial schedule. It is not like Jack McCoy in "Law and Order". In fact, nothing on TV comes close to reality. We just don't know how quick or how slow any particular case may go.
If I must report for trial, how long can I expect it to take?
There are several things that will happen on the day of the trial:
First, the ADA (Assistant District Attorney) prosecuting the case will need to talk with you. This is so that you will know what to expect in the courtroom. Also the ADA will get to know what to expect from you when you are testifying.
When the court calls, the ADA will go to pick a jury. That may take anywhere from 30 minutes to well over an hour, or even longer. This usually depends on the seriousness of the charges the defendant is facing.
After the jury is picked, the ADA has to give an opening statement. This could be after a very short break after jury picking, or possibly not until the afternoon if the judge decides to give a lunch break at that time.
Once the opening statements are done, testimony begins right away. That will be your time to speak to the jury. The ADA will call witnesses in the order he wants to proceed.
There is no way to predict how long each of the steps in the process will take. It may go real quick. It may take a while. Generally, plan on being at the courthouse through the morning. If you need to come back after the lunch break, the ADA will advise you what time you need to return.
After you have testified you will be excused. You can leave at that time if you want to or you can stay and observe the rest of the trial. You will not be permitted into the courtroom before you testify. Victim/Witness personnel have a lounge where you can wait until it is time for you to testify.
What about missing work and losing my pay? What if my boss won't let me go?
This is perhaps the hardest part about being a good citizen and doing your duty. A lot like jury duty.
Once you receive a subpoena, make a copy and give it to your boss. Your employer cannot prevent you from honoring that subpoena. If the boss wants confirmation that the subpoena is real, he can call the phone number listed on it. We will be happy to confirm whatever information your boss may need. Your employer will face penalties if you are refused the time.
There is a witness fee that is paid. You will need your subpoena when you arrive at the D.A.'s office. The fee is not much. In fact, it won't even make a dent in what you would have made at work. No, we don't make up wages that may be lost. Just give the subpoena to the victim / witness person and they will take care of notifying the ado that you are there and authorizing the witness fee.
If you have gotten a subpoena, thank you from all of the citizens of Erie County.
Drug Task Force
If I report drug activity in my neighborhood will I need to testify in court?
No. We keep all drug information tips confidential and will develop additional evidence that keeps you completely out of the picture.
Can I report a drug crime anonymously?
Yes. Although if you provide us with your name and telephone number we treat that information as more reliable than anonymous tips.
Are meth labs as dangerous as the media claims?
Yes. Meth labs use a number of dangerous chemicals that cause a very real risk of explosion. The chemicals contaminate the environment and area in which meth is made. Children of Methamphetamine manufacturers suffer burns, respiratory problems, toxic blood levels, neglect, and abuse.
These labs are highly explosive and flammable threatening nearby properties. They're polluting our air, water and land.
The manufacturing process contaminates carpet, appliances, furniture, clothing, drywall, insulation, and the building itself. The byproducts are extremely toxic.
A Meth lab can be located anywhere; the house next door, hotels, motels, RV's, campers, trailers, public storage facilities, the highway, forests, and etc.
DUI Task Force
Are sobriety checkpoints legal?
A number of court decisions have upheld the existence of sobriety checkpoints as long as the checkpoints on conducted in a location frequented by drunk drivers and at a time when most drunk drivers are likely to be detected.
Who commits elder abuse?
Each year hundreds of thousands of older persons are abused, neglected, and exploited by family members and others. Many victims are people who are older, frail, and vulnerable and cannot help themselves and depend on others to meet their most basic needs.
Most alleged perpetrators in 2003 were adult children (32.6%) or other family members (21.5%), and spouses/intimate partners accounted for 11.3% of the total (11 states responding).