All About Subpoenas

A subpoena is a request to appear in court or a legal proceeding, in order to present concrete evidence either in defense or in prosecution. The term subpoena itself literally means ‘under penalty.’

• Court Ordered

– A subpoena is a court-ordered command, and therefore should not be ignored. They can also happen in nearly any kind of court case, but more often are done in cases where it is imperative that a witness be present, such as cases dealing with divorce or injuries.

– It’s important that if you receive a subpoena, that you immediately comply with the terms of it. Otherwise, you are very likely to face penalties such as fines and jail time.

• Types of Subpoenas

– The first type of subpoena is an ad testificandum, meaning that you have to testify before a court.

– The second type of subpoena is a duces tecum, meaning that you only have to provide any evidence that you have to the court, even if you don’t have to actually show up.

• How Subpoenas Work

– Subpoenas are issued by an attorney to a specific court that the attorney can practice law at. The subpoena will first be requested by the attorney and then issued by the court clerk, and will then be delivered to the individual person who is being subpoenaed.

– Subpoenas are delivered to people by phone, by e-mail, or hand delivered by mail. Not responding to a subpoena is against the law, so be careful to read through it. Just because you are being issued a subpoena doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to show up in court, but you will still have to present evidence. Subpoenas are very specific in what they ask of you, and you should be very protective of any evidence that you are asked to bring up. If you are asked to show up in court, you should prepare extensively for it and put any files and evidence in order. Also, you must not forget to respond to the subpoena as soon as possible.

– It wouldn’t hurt to at least consult with a lawyer if you have been subpoenaed. Even if you don’t want to fully hire a lawyer, most offer a free first time consultation service where you can go over the subpoena and make sure that you are putting everything in order properly.


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