Arrest and Detention of Material Witnesses: Federal Law In Brief and Section 12 of the USA PATRIOT and Terrorism Prevention Reauthorization Act (H.R. 3199) [September 8, 2005]   [open pdf - 97KB]

"Witnesses at Congressional oversight hearings alleged that the authority to arrest and hold material witnesses until their appearance at federal criminal proceedings (including grand jury proceedings) had been abused following September 11, 2001. Section 12 of the USA PATRIOT Act and Terrorism Prevention Reauthorization Act (H.R. 3199) as reported by the House Judiciary Committee called for a periodic review and reports on the use of the material witness statute. In the face of Administration opposition, however, the provision was dropped from the bill prior to House consideration. No similar proposal can be found in the version of H.R. 3199 (S. 1389) approved in the Senate. The episode illustrates the level of controversy easily generated by material witness statutes. This is an overview of the law under the federal material witness statute which authorizes the arrest of material witnesses, permits their release under essentially the same bail laws that apply to federal criminal defendants, but favors their release after their depositions have taken."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL33077
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