Being subpoenaed can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially when you are unaware of its origins. If you’ve never had run-ins with the law, receiving a legal document demanding that you appear in court can leave you with more questions than answers. How do I respond to a subpoena? Do I have to appear in court? Questions like these often arise, and without the appropriate legal help, you may find yourself facing legal repercussions. The Orlando criminal defense lawyers at The Umansky Law Firm have over 100 years of combined legal experience. We can look into the details of the subpoena and make you aware of your options going forward while also ensuring that your rights are protected every step of the way.
What is a Subpoena?
A subpoena is a legal document ordering you to appear in court, provide evidence for a court case, or both. The subpoena can require you to testify at a deposition, serve as a witness at a criminal or civil trial, or turn over specified documents to the court. In Florida, an attorney who would like to issue a subpoena must send a Notice of Intent to Serve Subpoena at least ten days in advance of delivering the actual subpoena.
All subpoenas will contain the following:
- The date, location, and time the individual must appear in court or provide the needed documents.
- The address and name of the court where the case originated as well as a case number if one’s been assigned.
- An explanation of what the subpoena is requiring the individual to do whether it be to appear in court or send in documents. If one must send documents in, the subpoena will clearly state what documents the court is requesting.
The court expects individuals who receive a subpoena to comply; however, that is not your only option for responding to a subpoena.
Responding to a Subpoena
Your subpoena will likely arrive via a legal delivery service or registered mail, thus requiring you to sign and it is essential that you do so. Signing for a subpoena does not prove compliance. It merely acknowledges that you received the document. Once received, you have two options for responding to a subpoena: comply or object.
Comply With a Subpoena
Complying with a subpoena may involve attending the deposition, providing the requested documents or both. If your subpoena requires you to produce documents, be sure to write a Declaration of Service or Declaration of Compliance of Subpoena detailing what you delivered and who you delivered it to.
Object to a Subpoena
If you would like to object a subpoena, it is crucial that you first consult with a lawyer. Simply stating that you will not comply with the subpoena does not suffice and can lead to legal penalties. Instead, have your lawyer file an objection. A few common reasons to object to a subpoena include:
- Non-Custody: the requested documents are no longer in your possession
- Confidential Information: the requested documents are protected under the law
- Scope: have the court allow extra time for gathering documents and order the other party to pay for copying among other things
- Fifth Amendment Privilege: the Fifth Amendment protects you if supplying the requested documents will result in self-incrimination
- Procedural Flaws: you weren’t properly served the subpoena
Consequences for Not Responding to a Subpoena
Many people, whether out of fear or discontent, choose to ignore court subpoenas altogether. However, unbeknownst to them, such action (or inaction) can lead to being found in contempt of court: an offense punishable by being subjected to pay fines and even face time in jail. To avoid any undue legal repercussions, reach out to a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer who can guide you through the process.
The Orlando criminal defense lawyers at The Umansky Law Firm can guide you through the process regardless of how you choose to respond. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.