Personal Injury Lawyer

A subpoena is a legal document that a process server serves upon an individual. A subpoena is an order issued by the court.  Most commonly, a subpoena requires the person who receives it to appear at a certain place, date, and time to testify as a witness about a particular case.  In a criminal case, an individual can only be subpoenaed to testify in court. In civil cases, an individual can be subpoenaed to testify in court and out of court in a deposition. Generally, there are three types of subpoenas – (1) witness subpoena; (2) subpoena duces tecum; and (3) deposition subpoena. The following is a brief overview of subpoena by a personal injury lawyer from Eglet Adams.

Witness Subpoena

A witness subpoena is a court order requiring someone to appear in court and testify as a witness. When served with a witness subpoena, it is either because the individual is believed to have seen a crime take place or are able to provide information about a person who did see the crime. Most commonly, witness subpoenas order the witness to testify in trial. Interestingly, in many states, witnesses are entitled to a witness fee if subpoenaed to court. The fee may include a witness fee and a mileage reimbursement.  

Subpoena Duces Tecum

The second type of subpoena is a “subpoena duces tecum.”  Subpoena duces tecum is translated from Latin to mean “subpoena for production of evidence.”  This subpoena requires a third party individual or business to produce books, documents, or other evidence that is in the party’s possession. Oftentimes, complying with a subpoena duces tecum means mailing or otherwise sending the evidence electronically or in person to the requesting party at a hearing.

Deposition Subpoena

The third type of subpoena is a deposition subpoena. This subpoena orders a person who is not a party to the lawsuit to provide copies of business records and/or appear in a deposition to answer questions asked by one party in a lawsuit. A deposition subpoena differs from a subpoena duces tecum in that the documents and testimony in a deposition subpoena are part of the discovery process and cannot be used in trial, whereas the evidence produced in a subpoena duces tecum may be used. 

Regarding all three types of subpoenas, it’s important to remember that a subpoena is a court order. This means that it must be followed. In fact, subpoena in Latin translates to “under penalty,” meaning that failure to abide by the court order could render you in legal trouble and the judge may find you in contempt of court.