Material Witness Legal Definition

An important witness is a person who contains “material” information about a criminal case. With the authority of 18 U.S.C. § 3144, the U.S. government may request an arrest warrant from a bailiff to arrest a key witness. To do this, a U.S. official must file an affidavit with the bailiff alleging that (1) the person has information essential to the criminal proceeding and (2) it would be “impossible to ensure the person`s presence by subpoena.” Witnesses are characterized in many ways: for example, by their expertise, by the part of the process in which they testify, and by the class of testimony they provide. An important witness may also fall into one of these categories, although some are more likely than others. The two categories of expertise are “layman” and “expert”. A lay witness is an ordinary person, while an expert is a person with special knowledge in a particular field. After a conviction is recorded, there is a special panel of witnesses, called criminal witnesses or criminal witnesses, who appear at the sentencing hearing to determine the sentence to be imposed. During the trial, witnesses may provide different types of testimony.

There are so-called factual witnesses who talk about what happened in a particular case. There may also be character witnesses who have specific knowledge of a person`s morality, honesty, and reputation, which can be important for a judgment. The witnesses to the outcry are a special group of witnesses: adults who heard a child`s “uproar” about abuse. A protested witness is required by law to report such abuses. An “important witness” is more or less a suspect in a criminal investigation. Maybe not a prime suspect. Maybe not even a suspect against whom criminal charges will eventually be laid. But a suspect who is important enough “material”, if you will, to keep you in custody for a while.

Typically, law enforcement officers detain a person as a “material witness” if they fear the person is fleeing their jurisdiction but does not yet have the property with them to charge them with a crime. Statistics on witness hearings at the federal level showed a steady decline from 2000 to 2002, from 3603 important witness hearings in FY 2000 to 3344 in FY 2001 and 2961 in FY 2002. During and after this period, the vast majority of witness warrant hearings took place in Mexico`s border jurisdictions and illegal trafficking of foreigners. [3] Although there has been much legal debate about the scope of the substantive witnesses law, since the decision of the Ninth District Court of Appeals in Bacon v. United States, 449 F.2d 933 (9th Cir. 1971), the term “criminal trial” in the Substantive Witnesses Act includes both (undisputed) trials and grand jury investigations. Thus, the ability to arrest important witnesses under the law also extends to the ability to arrest those who have briefing materials for a grand jury inquiry (provided that practical impossibility is also proven). The Supreme Court has not had an opportunity to rule on this legal issue. [ref. If a party`s affidavit indicates that a person`s testimony is essential in criminal proceedings, and it is shown that it may become impossible to ensure the person`s presence by summons, a bailiff may order the arrest of the person and treat the person in accordance with the provisions of section 3142 of this title. No key witness may be detained for failing to comply with a condition of release if his or her testimony can be adequately supported by testimony and no further detention is necessary to avoid judicial failure.

The release of a key witness may be postponed for a reasonable period of time until the testimony of the witness can be made in accordance with the Federal Code of Criminal Procedure. An important witness (in U.S. criminal law) is a person whose information is supposed to be important relating to a criminal case. The power to detain important witnesses dates back to the first judicial act of 1789, but the Bail Reform Act of 1984 amended the text of the law and is now codified in 18 U.S.C. § 3144. The latest version allows important witnesses to be detained to obtain testimony in criminal proceedings or before a grand jury. In 2009, the Ninth Appeals District in San Francisco, California. discovered in Ashcroft v.

al-Kidd that former Attorney General John Ashcroft could be personally prosecuted for unlawfully detaining Abdullah al-Kidd, a U.S. citizen arrested in 2003 and held in maximum security prisons for 16 days to be used as a key witness in the trial of Sami Omar Al-Hussayen. Al-Kidd was never charged or called as a witness. (Al-Hussein was acquitted of all charges of supporting terrorism in 2004.) [5] [6] As to why an important witness would flee, there are likely several possible causes. For example, if the testimony of the important witness is likely to harm a relative of that witness, he or she may not want to testify. @SteamLouis– The definition of a material witness is a fairly broad concept. It is simply someone who has information material on a case. This information is important and will influence the outcome of the criminal proceedings. As the article says, different types of witnesses could be considered important witnesses.

Since September 11, 2001, the United States has used the Substantive Witnesses Act to detain suspects indefinitely without charge, often under the guise of obtaining grand jury testimony. This use of the law is controversial and is currently subject to judicial review. In Ashcroft v. al-Kidd (2011), the detainee was never charged or called as a witness and prosecuted the then American. Attorney General John Ashcroft. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned a decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, ruling that Ashcroft enjoyed immunity because of his official position. In 2005, Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, intending to allay concerns about such use of the Important Witnesses Act, proposed a bill to amend the Essential Witnesses Act to strengthen procedural safeguards and for other purposes, p.

1739 § 1. However, the bill was not introduced after being sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee. [4] A 2006 decision stated that the substantive law of witnesses can only be applied if a person is genuinely sought as a witness and there is a risk of absconding; It should not be used as a preventive measure. This has led to controversy for several reasons. Primarily, critics believed that the government`s use of the substantive witness law to detain suspects was a circumvention of the U.S. Constitution`s Fourth Amendment, which provides criminal suspects with some protection that was apparently ignored during arrests of important witnesses after September 11. Second, legal critics have objected to the application of the substantive witness law to grand jury trials. In the current circumstances, however, I imagine that judges may admit longer substantive “determinations” on the merits, or at least not oppose them. Who is going to tell the feds in these frightening times that they should release someone who, according to the authorities, has information about the worst crime in American history in the population? And it seems to me that the longer a “significant witness” is detained in this case, the more likely it is that the person will eventually be charged.

Much has been said in recent days about “material witnesses” arrested by law enforcement in connection with Tuesday`s terrorist attacks. Even if we don`t know their names yet, even if we don`t yet know exactly what the cops expect of them, it`s important to understand what a “material witness” is and what isn`t. After the attacks of 11. In September 2001, the U.S. government announced a campaign of aggressive detention by all possible means of those who might have been involved in attacks against the United States. [1] Among the means was the use of the substantive law on witnesses to arrest even suspects (as opposed to witnesses). Many witnesses imprisoned as witnesses have been imprisoned as witnesses in grand jury trials,[2] which are only investigations, not criminal trials. [ref. needed] Witnesses play an important role in the justice system.

Witnesses are persons who testify under oath by producing a document in court, testifying or testifying in court, and may include plaintiffs and defendants. There are a number of different categories of witnesses, and the material witnesses are so kind. A key witness is a witness whose testimony is considered essential to the outcome of the proceedings; That is, his testimony is a “material” meaning. There is therefore concern about the abuse of the first judicial law of 1789, which allows the imprisonment of witnesses. I think this is something that needs to be discussed and clarified by the authorities. Under a 1984 federal law, prosecutors can apply for an arrest warrant if the testimony of a potential witness is “essential” to the criminal proceedings and the person is likely to abscond. A judge must approve the arrest warrant, and the witness has the right to a hearing and a court-appointed lawyer. The amount of the bail varies according to the competence and discretion of the judge.