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hecdris

Witness compensation

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I was involved in a motor vehicle accident where someone ran a red light. I was cited for running the red light, and other information in the police report was inaccurate about the accident. We have the person that called 911 and another bystander as witnesses, who have provided statements in my favor. No lawyer wants to take the case because there is no money involved, so we will have to go to court and represent ourselves. We would like to compensate our witnesses for appearing in court, as it will require them to take time off of work. Is that allowed? We don't want to run into as issue where it may seem we've paid them for their statements in our favor. HELP!

Thanks.

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Regulations regarding witness compensation generally are concerned with fairness to the opposing party and fairness to the litigants. Courts want to ensure all parties a fair trial and preserve the credibility of the evidence.

Laws regarding attorney ethics in a particular jurisdiction frequently provide severe ethical penalties for improperly compensating an attorney.

What jurisdiction are you located in? Each state will have different laws regarding witness compensation.

Good luck.

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Sarah,

Thanks for the info. I am located in Cumberland County, Fayetteville, NC. I just hate to inconvenience the witnesses, but know how much it would help to have them present, versus just a written statement.

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hecdris said...

We would like to compensate our witnesses for appearing in court, as it will require them to take time off of work. Is that allowed? We don't want to run into as issue where it may seem we've paid them for their statements in our favor. HELP!

According to NC general statute section § 7A-314,

it appears that a witness (other than an expert witness) is allowed a

fee of $5 per day (or part of a day) that he attends for the trial. This

fee is paid by the state in criminal cases under § 7A-316

unless the defendant calls more than 2 witnesses to prove a single fact

then the defense pays the fees for the extra witnesses.

So, bottom line, your witnesses won't get much for this.

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hecdris said...

Thanks for the info. I am located in Cumberland County, Fayetteville,

NC. I just hate to inconvenience the witnesses, but know how much it

would help to have them present, versus just a written statement.

In general, a written statement from your witness is hearsay and inadmissible. Part of the reason for that is the opposing side has a right to cross-examine your witnesses, and the prosecutor cannot cross-examine a piece of paper. You'll need your witnesses there in order to get their testimony before the court.

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hecdris said...

We would like to compensate our witnesses for appearing in court, as it will require them to take time off of work. Is that allowed?

Depends on the laws of your unidentified state. Generally, the only permissible compensation would be statutory witness fees, which are typically a nominal amount (in my state, I believe it's $35) plus 20 cents or so per mile. Even if payment beyond that amount is legally permissible, it could create credibility problems if it comes out during cross-examination that you are compensating the witnesses for their testimony.

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