A subpoena is a document issued by a court that orders a person or entity to produce physical evidence or testify in connection with a pending case. It doesn’t allege that the recipient has done anything that might be against the law. It’s merely a way of compelling a person who might have information about a case to court or another location to testify or produce evidence. The subpoena sets forth when and where specific evidence is to be produced or when and where a person is required to testify in a case.
Types of subpoenas
There are generally two types of subpoenas. The first is a subpoena ad testificandum that requires a person to present himself or herself and testify in a court proceeding. The second type is a subpoena duces tecum for production of physical evidence. Physical evidence might include records, documents, computer files or the like. A subpoena duces tecum does not require actual testimony.
Subpoena in a civil case
If a subpoena is issued in a civil case, production of evidence or testimony might be for a deposition that is held outside of court at an attorney’s or court reporter’s office. It might also be issued for testimony in court in front of a judge or jury.
Subpoena in a criminal case
A subpoena in a criminal court will require the person served with it to appear in court. It might also require him or her to produce certain physical evidence in court.
Content of a subpoena
A validly issued subpoena should contain certain specific information. A careful examination will reveal:
Service of a subpoena
A subpoena can be served by any deputy, a licensed process server or any person over the age of 18. A copy of the original subpoena is what is actually served. A witness fee plus mileage allowance is ordinarily required to accompany the subpoena.
Failure to appear
Failure to appear as commanded by a subpoena can result in being held in contempt of court and a jail sentence. Compensation fees to any parties who were damaged by a failure might also be awarded. A judge might also order the county sheriff to take the person who failed to appear into custody to be brought before him or her.
Motions in connection with subpoenas
There are times when a person who was served with a subpoena might want to modify it or fix its conditions. It might even be objected to it in its entirety. If the subpoena requires a court appearance, the law requires the person to act promptly pursuant to a motion in the court where the subpoena is returnable. If it’s not returnable in a court, any request to modify it, fix its conditions or quash it must first be discussed with the person who issued it. If an accord can’t be reached on a subpoena that is not returnable in court, any motion to modify it, fix its conditions or quash it is required to be heard in court. Courts are allowed to impose reasonable conditions in granting or denying a motion to modify or quash a subpoena.
If you or your business have been served with a subpoena that you object to, note the date and time of service along with how it was served, and contact our offices right away so that prompt action can be taken to preserve your objections and defenses. There are limits to subpoena power, and courts take those abuses of those limits seriously. You can contact us at any one of our three offices, and we can arrange for a free consultation and evaluation. We’ll then advise you of your options. The law requires you to make any objections to a subpoena promptly, so contact us right away at 888-997-2152.
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