What Should I Do When I Receive A Subpoena?
An order to appear in court can be quite intimidating when you aren’t a party in a legal case and the language used in the order is formal and commanding. It’s also hard to know exactly what to do after you are served with a subpoena. Continue reading for a few important notes on subpoenas.
First, there are several kinds of subpoenas. The court order may demand that you appear personally in court on a certain day and at a certain time to provide live testimony. Some subpoenas require that you appear at a private law firm for a pre-trial deposition. The subpoena may require that you bring certain documents or information under your control.
Next, it’s important to understand when you have actually been served with a subpoena. An adult must hand you the subpoena or leave it at your home in the care of another competent person over the age of 14. Generally, you must be served with the subpoena at least 10 days before you are ordered to appear in court or at a deposition, or before you are required to supply documents. There are some limited exceptions to this rule. You should also review the subpoena to see who has issued it and whether you received a prepayment of the applicable witness and mileage fees. Witness fees are required to be paid when you receive the subpoena. The witness fee is for one day of attendance and mileage fees are for travel to the court location or deposition location. If you are required to produce documents, it is acceptable to request payment for the copies you must make. If you do not receive the witness fee and mileage fee with your subpoena, you may not be obligated to appear. This rule applies to most civil cases, with some exceptions. Even if you do not receive the proper fee, you are still required to appear pursuant to a subpoena if the subpoena is issued on behalf of the state, a municipality in a forfeiture action, or of an indigent respondent in a paternity case. For certain kinds of subpoenas there are also geographical limits on requiring a witness to appear. If a witness lives too far away from the court or deposition location, that witness may not be required to appear.
If you don’t want to appear personally or supply the requested documents, you may be able to “quash” the subpoena. Quashing a subpoena includes filing an objection and citing legally valid reasons for avoiding the duty of appearing. An attorney can help you file an objection and evaluate your chances to avoid the subpoena. Even if you think you were not properly served with the subpoena, you live too far from the requested location, or any other reason you are inclined not to comply with the subpoena, it is essential that you consult with an attorney before ignoring a subpoena. If you ignore a subpoena without a valid reason, you can be held in contempt of court and subject to monetary fines, jail time, or both.
When you’re properly served with a subpoena, you still might wish to seek legal advice. You may benefit from the advice of an attorney if you are requested to testify about or bring certain information or documents you believe are personal or private. You may have some information or documents that are privileged. You may also expose yourself to potential liability depending on the nature of your testimony.
Now that you know a little about the subpoena process, you may have questions about your own situation. Legal blog posts can serve as worthwhile introductions to various legal topics, but they should never be considered legal advice. Contact an attorney at Kelly & Brand, Attorneys at Law, LLC for personalized legal advice.