Frequently Asked Questions About Subpoenas



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What are subpoenas, and how do they work?

Learn more from our FAQ

What is a subpoena?

A subpoena is a legal document that requests the presence of the served person to testify as a witness at a specific date, time, and location. They must be confirmed within a certain time frame. This can either be for deposition or trial. The person who was issued a subpoena often has to produce documents and/or evidence for the proceeding. 

Who issues a subpoena?

Subpoenas can be issued by attorneys, individuals involved, or even a government agency conducting an investigation. 

The different types of subpoena: 

  • Witness Subpoena: a court order that requires a person to appear on a specific date to testify as a witness.
  • Subpoena Duces Tecum: “subpoena for production of evidence.” Requires the person subpoenaed to produce documents or records that are relevant to a case. Can be completed by email or mail if arranged in advance.
  • Deposition Subpoena: specifically for those not actively involved in a case. Requires the person subpoenaed to provide copies of business records or perhaps to appear at a deposition. Regardless, it usually occurs before trial. 

​What is a “service of process?”

The “service of process” is the actual delivery of a court order to the subpoenaed individual. It is sometimes 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. A hearing is held for the person who is charged, and the result can be anything from monetary sanctions to imprisonment. It is better to just follow through with a subpoena, as trial for noncompliance is a waste of time and money.

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