A Guide to the Basics About Subpoenas
Have you been subpoenaed by a Decatur attorney? Is your lawyer discussing the possibility of subpoenaing witnesses to aid in your case? If so, this guide will be a good place to begin. Do not hesitate to contact an attorney in Decatur from The Lynch Law Group to learn more.
What is a subpoena?
A subpoena is a request for the production of certain documents or to appear in a legal proceeding at a courthouse, hearing, or arbitration. A subpoena is a court order and most common in child custody cases, divorce cases, personal injury cases, criminal cases, and sex offense cases. Essentially, you are required to adhere to the order, regardless of whether or not you want to. If you do not comply with the terms, you could face fines, jail time, or both. If you are working with a Decatur attorney, they can explain your legal options.
Two Types of Subpoenas
Subpoena ad testificandum – This will require you to give testimony to a court or legal authority. You have the legal right to have a Decatur attorney representing you and by your side.
Subpoena duces tecum – Your duty will be to produce tangible evidence, material, or documents. Your Decatur attorney can help you prepare this in the manner that the court expects.
The Use of Subpoenas
Subpoenas can be used in all court systems. They allow attorneys in Decatur to obtain information that could prove or disprove the case. A criminal lawyer might use a subpoena to obtain a witness’ testimony that could prove guilt or innocence during trial. A civil lawyer might subpoena an individual to gain information that could enable a settlement. A subpoena might also include a request for:
- DNA samples
- Blood samples and bloodwork analysis
- Computer files
- Downloaded material
- Phone files
- Medical bills
- Insurance records
- Tax returns
- Work records
- Financial statements
Who Can Issue a Subpoena?
A subpoena can be issued by a lawyer on behalf of the court. If the subpoena is for a certain official, such as an agency head, mayor, or governor, an administrative judge must give the order.
Serving a Subpoena
Once a lawyer requests the subpoena, the court clerk, a notary public, or justice of the peace will issue it. After it has been issued, it will need to be served to the individual. This could include:
- Hand delivery
- Email with a receipt of acknowledgement
- Certified mail
- Read aloud hearing
Responding to a Subpoena
If you have been given a subpoena, you should not ignore it. In doing so it could be considered contempt of court. It is advisable to review the subpoena to determine what the court is asking of you, whether or not you need to appear for testimony, and at what date. If you are being asked to provide documents, there will likely be precise specifics as to what you need to handover. You may want to protect all of these documents in a safe. Should you believe you are at risk (i.e. in rare scenarios involving criminal acts), you may want to consult with a lawyer. The same advice applies to anyone who does not understand their subpoena or what is being asked of them.
Refusing A Subpoena
In a few instances you may be able to avoid an appearance in court to present the documents to the requesting party. For example, if the information is lost, privileged, or a violation of your 5th Amendment right, you can legally object. In this situation, you should talk with a lawyer beforehand.
Have You Recently Been Subpoenaed? Call The Lynch Law Group
No matter what you have been subpoenaed for, the lawyers at The Lynch Law Group would like to speak with you to discuss your options, obligations, and any questions you might have. Call (404) 373-7735 now to speak to a respected Decatur attorney from The Lynch Law Group