Receiving a subpoena from a process server can be incredibly scary. No one likes being told that they have to appear in court, and being subpoenaed could potentially mean that you’re facing serious legal trouble. At the law offices of Kevin J Napper, we frequently deal with clients wanting to know what they need to do after they receive a subpoena. For this reason, we’ll now present you with the basic facts about subpoenas to ensure you know what to do and how it might affect your life.
What is a Subpoena?
A subpoena is a legally binding court order that either requires a person to appear in court or present documents or other evidence related to a court case. There are technically two kinds of subpoenas—subpoena ad testificandum and subpoena duces tecum. A subpoena ad testificandum requires a person to appear at either a trial or deposition to provide testimony related to the case, whereas a subpoena duces tecum is issued when a person is required to provide documents or other tangible evidence in a case. In some situations, a person will be served with both types of subpoenas, which means that they will be required to appear in court and also furnish evidence.
Facts You Need to Know About Subpoenas
Subpoena is a Latin term that directly translates as ‘under penalty.’ This definition is extremely important to remember, as failing to comply with the terms of a subpoena means a person may be subject to criminal or civil punishment. Depending on the circumstances, a person that fails to comply with a subpoena could end up facing jail time, fines or both.
Generally speaking, subpoenas must be issued at least 10 days before the person has to appear in court or provide evidence. This time period is essential as it both allows the person time to gather the evidence or prepare for their court appearance. At the same time, it also ensures that the individual being subpoenaed has ample time to file a motion to have the court quash the subpoena. In this case, if you feel that the scope of the subpoena is either too broad or not relevant to the case, you can request that the court quash it in part or in whole.
All subpoenas are still bound by the rules of permissible discovery, which means that the person requesting the subpoena is still only entitled to evidence or witness testimony that is directly relevant to the case. Should you feel that the subpoena is requesting evidence or testimony that is unrelated, a judge can issue an order to quash the subpoena. In this case, the subpoena is considered void and you are freed from your obligations to appear in court or provide evidence.
Anytime a subpoena is issued, the person is eligible to receive compensation for their court appearance or for furnishing evidence. If you are requested to appear at a trial or deposition, you are generally eligible to receive both mileage and witness fees. Similarly, you should also be able to receive document copying fees whenever requested to supply documents and evidence.
A subpoena is not the same thing as a summons. Although both are legal court orders that require a person to appear at a trial or deposition, they are completely different types of orders. A subpoena is issued when a witness or third-party is required to provide testimony or evidence in a case involving other parties, whereas a summons is issued when a person must appear in court to answer charges being filed against them.
Being issued a subpoena doesn’t have to be that big of a deal. However, it is essential that you comply with the subpoena to ensure you don’t face criminal or civil penalties. At the same time, it is essential that you speak with a professional attorney such as Kevin J Napper to ensure that you don’t accidentally incriminate yourself or do anything else that could potentially come back to harm you.