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Frequently Asked Questions About Subpeonas





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The Most Frequently Asked Questions About Subpoenas 

What is a Subpoena?

A subpoena is a legal document that demands the presence of a person to testify (be it for a deposition or trial) as a witness at a specific date, time, and location. They are time sensitive, and must be confirmed within a certain time frame. The person receiving the subpoena usually has to produce documents or potentially evidence for the legal proceeding.

Who issues the Subpoena?

An attorney or individual can issue a subpoena with court-supplied forms, and can be issued for any type of case. Government agencies conducting investigations may also issue a subpoena.

What are the different types of Subpoena?

There are three different types of subpoenas.

  • Witness Subpoena– a court order that requires a person to appear in court to testify as a witness on a specific date.
  • Subpoena Duces Tecum– stands for “subpoena for production of evidence.” The person subpoenaed to required to produce documents or records on a certain date that are relevant to a case. This can often be done through mail or email if arranged in advance.
  • Deposition Subpoena– a person who is not a party to a lawsuit must provide copies of business records, or appear at a deposition to answer questions, if asked by one party of a lawsuit. This is usually issued before trial and may not even be used during an actual hearing.

What is a “Service of Process?”

A “service of process” is the delivery of a court order to an individual or company. A service of process could be an “Summons and Complaint” that initiates a lawsuit, or a subpoena. A “summons and complaint” requests that an individual or representative of a company appear in court to defend oneself.

What is required from a “Service of Process?”

For both “summons and complaint” and “subpoenas,” the formal documents or testimonies requested must be delivered.

What are the penalties if a subpoena is ignored/not complied with?

If a person does not respond to the subpoena, there area number of ways they may be published– from monetary sanctions to imprisonment (though that is rare). A hearing is held for the person charged with noncompliance, and the court determines how appropriate their noncompliance is. It is better to simply oblige to a subpoena, as the court will likely just order the person to produce the documents, and they will be charged with attorneys’ fees.






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