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Legal Information

Starting the Court Case

Should I contact potential witnesses before the hearing?

Anyone can be a witness – a friend, a family member, children, an emergency room nurse, a doctor, a stranger who saw or heard the abuse, a law enforcement officer, etc.

Some witnesses may not come to court unless they are given a subpoena that commands them to appear and testify. Court clerks usually have subpoena forms that you can fill out and the subpoena will have to be signed by the judge. There may be specific rules in your state regarding how the witness has to be served with the subpoena and even how many days in advance of the hearing s/he must be served. Be sure to ask the clerk or the judge for this information. In some states, the sheriff department will serve the subpoena. In other states, you may have to get someone over the age of 18 to serve it, or a process server. You can ask the clerk of court how to have your subpoenas served.

If the people you subpoena do not come to the hearing, let the judge know. The judge can penalize them for not showing up and you can ask the judge to postpone the hearing until the subpoenaed people do appear.