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Understanding your obligations if you receive a subpoena

On Behalf of | Jan 16, 2022 | Federal Crimes

No one wants to receive a subpoena. However, receiving one isn’t typically as dramatic as it’s made to appear on television. 

Unless you’ve been attempting to evade a subpoena (which is an unwise, essentially pointless thing to do), the person who serves it isn’t likely to sneak up on you or pretend to be someone they’re not to get you to stop long enough for them to put it in your hands. They could simply come to your home or office to serve you.

Once you receive the subpoena, don’t panic – but definitely don’t ignore it. Subpoenas are court orders.

Types of subpoenas

It’s crucial to first understand what kind of subpoena it is. There are three basic types of subpoenas. Let’s take a brief look at each:

  • Witness subpoena: This is used when a person is being ordered to appear in court. Typically, it involves being a witness. The date of appearance should be specified on the subpoena.
  • Deposition subpoena: This may order a person to appear for a deposition prior to a trial, it may order them to produce records or other documentation as part of the discovery process, it may order them to do both.
  • Subpoena Duces Tecum: The last two words are Latin for “production of evidence.” It requires someone to produce records or documentation in their possession or to which they have access, typically as a case is being prepared.

A person who receives a subpoena may not be the subject of an investigation. They may just be someone who is believed or known to have information relevant to a case. Nonetheless, it’s crucial to remember that it’s a court order with which you’re expected to comply.

Your best course of action on receiving a subpoena is to seek legal guidance, if you haven’t already, before telling anyone else about the subpoena or its contents. This will help you avoid putting yourself in unnecessary legal jeopardy.