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What are Subpoenas?

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What is a subpoena?

What is a subpoena and who can issue one?

A subpoena is a legal document that requires the person served to testify as a witness at a specific date and location for a deposition or trial. They can be issued by an individual, an attorney, and even a government agency conducting an investigation. The person subpoenaed must confirm the subpoena within in a specific time frame, and they may have to produce documents and/or evidence for the legal proceeding. 

What are the different types of subpoena?

  • Witness subpoena: a court order that requires the person subpoenaed to appear at a legal proceeding on a specific date to testify.
  • Subpoena duces tecum: a “subpoena for production of evidence.” The person subpoenaed must produce documents and/or records that are relevant to a case. If arranged in advance, this can be completed by email or mail.
  • Deposition subpoena: a subpoena specifically for a person who is not a party in the lawsuit. This requires them to provide copies of business records or potentially appear at a deposition to answer questions. It usually occurs before a trial.

Subpoenas are a regular part of the world of law, but some people aren’t totally sure what they are. Read through these frequently asked questions to learn more.

What is a “service of process?”

The “service of process” is when the court order is delivered to the correct individual or company that requests them to appear in court to testify. This could be an actual subpoena, or a “summons and complaint” that initiates a lawsuit. 

What happens if a subpoena is not complied with?

Noncompliance to a subpoena can be punished by law. This can vary from monetary sanctions to even imprisonment (though this is far less common). A hearing is held for the person charged with noncompliance, which becomes a waste of time and money for said defendant. It is better to oblige to said subpoena to avoid this.


Hanna & Hanna Reporting is a full-service court reporting firm offering complete legal support services, videoconferencing and deposition suites. We provide a wide variety of services related to the court reporter profession, including realtime, transcription service, closed captioning, litigation support and legal video services.


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