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Understanding Subpoenas

You’ve likely heard the legal term “subpoena” in a TV drama or when watching the nightly news. But what exactly does this mean? A subpoena is defined as a written order requiring somebody to come testify. In other words, a subpoena is a court order telling someone that they must appear in court. If you receive a subpoena, it is important to comply with the order and show up for court. Failure to comply with a subpoena can result in serious penalties, including jail time. But why are these court orders deployed? What kinds of cases necessitate issuing subpoenas? What kinds of subpoenas are there? You can learn the answer to this and other legal questions here.

What is a Subpoena?

Subpoenas are most common in divorce or personal injury law. However, they can also be used in other types of legal cases. For example, in environmental law a subpoena may be used to require the production of documents or testimony regarding a pollution incident. The compulsory nature of subpoenas is for the sake of proving guilt or innocence or in a civil matter, which may mean establishing liability. This could also be considered a witness summons, depending which side of the case is seeking documents or testimony. Oftentimes, they involve a third party currently not involved with the case.

Types of Subpoenas

There are two types of subpoenas. The first is a subpoena to provide testimony which calls for a witness to testify or present information that may more firmly establish the facts of the case. The other type of subpoena is subpoena duces tecum which requires an individual to produce documents, materials, or other forms of evidence.

How an Attorney Can Help

If you receive a subpoena, it is important to take it seriously and consult with an attorney. If ignored, unless there is a legal reason not to, you could face civil penalties or a fine, sometimes even imprisonment or both. All in all, subpoenas are formal legal documents that should be taken seriously. If you are asked to present evidence for a case or show up at court, it’s important that you do so. Malloy Law Offices is a dedicated to answering your legal questions. We offer free consultations and will use our extensive knowledge of the law to advise you as to your best course of action. Call us today.