A subpoena, by definition, is an order by a government agency for an individual or organization to either testify in the court of law, or provide physical evidence before an ordering court. In not complying with such an order, one may face penalty or punishment of law.
Subpoenas are most often served in-person by an attorney, although they can also be sent via mail. Either way the subpoena is delivered, immediate compliance will be required. If an attorney or any other appointed court personnel delivers the subpoena, a signature of receipt will also be necessary.
There are two types of subpoenas that are commonly ordered:
1. Subpoena ad testificandum – This type of subpoena will order an individual to testify before a court of law, or ordering authority. In not doing so, an individual will face punishment of law.
2. Subpoena duces tecum – This subpoena will order an individual to bring physical evidence before a court of law, or an ordering authority. As with the Subpoena ad testificandum, to not comply with this order is punishable by law.
The subpoena process:
1. Filing – A subpoena is most often issued by a court clerk, with respects to the judge presiding over the present case. Subpoenas are sometimes issued as a blank form, leaving it up to the lawyer (in need of witness or evidence) to complete and distribute the order. In other cases, the court clerk will write out the subpoena in the form of a letter, and distribute accordingly. The form or letter will include the name of the witness being ordered (and/or evidence necessary from that witness). It will also include a date, time and place where the witness or evidence must be present, under penalty of law.
2. Accept/Contest – Once an individual or organization has received a subpoena, it is important to check all information for validity. If the subpoena is invalid or does not seem to be in relation to you or your organization, it can be challenged (which is known as a Motion to Quash). The court must immediately be informed that you wish to file a Motion to Quash, so that legal action is not taken for non-compliance.
3. Hiring A Lawyer – It is always in your best interest to hire a lawyer to protect you from laws and/or situations in which you may not be familiar. It is difficult to rebut any words spoken under oath, or any documents you may have signed. Even if you are not a guilty individual or organization, there is always the possibility of being sentenced to criminal charges, for signing or saying something that is a mischaracterization.
The receipt of a subpoena can be both stressful and overwhelming. In understanding the process of how a subpoena is handled from start to finish, you can ease a portion of this stress. Although the best way in which to handle any form or paperwork received from a court system, is to contact a professional.
Steven Medvin is the Executive Director of SMP Advance Funding, LLC, which provides lawsuit funding to individuals who need a lawsuit loan for pending lawsuits. For more information please visit: http://www.smpadvance.com