Frequently Asked Questions About Subpoenas




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Learn More About Subpoenas in These Frequently Asked Questions

What is a subpoena?

A subpoena is a legal document that requires the served person to testify as a witness at a specific date, time, and location for a deposition or trial. The person who has received the subpoena often has to produce documents and/or potential evidence for the legal proceeding. They must be confirmed within a certain time frame.

Who issues a subpoena?

An individual, an attorney, and even a government agency conducting an investigation can issue a subpoena for any type of case with the proper court-supplied forms.


What are the different types of subpoena?

  • A Witness Subpoena is a court order that requires a person to appear at a legal proceeding on a specific date and testify as a witness.
  • A Subpoena Duces Tecum is a “subpoena for production of evidence.” This requires the person subpoenaed to produce documents or records for a certain date that are relevant to a case. It can be completed by email or mail if arranged in advance.
  • A Deposition Subpoena is for a person who is not a party to a lawsuit. It requires them to provide copies of business records or to even appear at a deposition to answer questions, usually before a trial.

What is the “Service of Process?”

This is the delivery of a court order to the correct individual or company. It requests an individual to appear in court to defend oneself. Sometimes it is a “summons and complaint” to initiate a lawsuit, and other times it is a subpoena.

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

Noncompliance can result in a number of punishments from monetary sanctions to imprisonment (though this isn’t common). A hearing is held for the person charged with noncompliance. It is better to oblige to a subpoena, as going to trial for noncompliance is a waste of time and money for the person who has been served.

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