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Frequently Asked Questions About Subpoenas

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Subpoenas are an essential part of the legal industry. Learn more about them through the frequently asked questions below.

What is a subpoena?

Subpoenas are legal documents that require the presence of a person to testify as a witness at a specific date, time, and location for a deposition or trial. The person receiving a subpoena may have to produce documents or evidence, and they must be confirmed within a certain time frame. Subpoenas are usually issued by attorneys, but can be issued by government agencies or an individual with court-supplied forms.

Are there different types of subpoena?

There are three types of subpoenas:

  • Witness Subpoena– the most known one: a court order that requires a person to appear in court and testify as a witness on a specific date.
  • Subpoena Duces Tecum– Latin for “subpoena for production of evidence.” The person is required to produce documents or records on a certain date relevant to a case.
  • Deposition Subpoena– a person who is not involved in the lawsuit must provide copies of business records or appear at a deposition to answer questions. Issued pre-trial and may not be used during an actual hearing.

What is a “service of process?”

It is the delivery of a court order to an individual or company. This could be a “summons and complaint” that initiates a lawsuit, or a subpoena.\

Are there penalties if a subpoena is ignored or not complied with?

Noncompliance to a subpoena can be penalized a number of ways– from monetary sanctions to imprisonment. It is better to just oblige to a subpoena as hearings and fees will waste one’s time and money.

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