You're sitting at home watching the television when you hear a knock at the door. You answer the door, give the other person your name and they hand you a document. You open it up and you realize it is a subpoena. You may be familiar with what a subpoena is, or maybe you're not, but you begin to feel uneasy. The first thing you need to do is relax – a subpoena is different than being served with a lawsuit, so take a deep breath.
A subpoena is a formal court order requiring you to give testimony that can be used in court. Often times, the subpoena will require you to give testimony in open court during a trial or hearing. Sometimes, the subpoena may be to testify at a deposition.
There are two (2) basic types of subpoenas: a subpoena ad testificandum, which requires you to show up at a specified time and location and give oral testimony; and a subpoena duces tecum, which requires you to produce documents that are named in the subpoena. You may also be required to appear and give testimony under a subpoena duces tecum.
The requirements for a valid subpoena are found in Rule 45 of the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure. According to the Rule, a subpoenamust include certain information, such as:
- The court that issued the subpoena,
- The name of the case and case number to which the subpoena applies,
- An order that you must appear at a specified place, date and time to give oral testimony or produce certain documents (or both),
- The name of the party and their attorney who served the subpoena, and,
- The names and contact information for all attorneys you represent parties to the case, or the names and contact information of the parties, themselves, if they are not represented by an attorney.
Furthermore, if the subpoena requires your testimony at a live trial or hearing, it must be served no later than 48 hours (2 days) before the proceeding. A subpoena requiring you to give testimony at a deposition must be served no later than seven (7) days prior to the scheduled deposition. And, finally, a subpoena requiring you to produce documents must be served no later than fourteen (14) days before the date you must comply with the order.
The most important thing to do after being served with a subpoena is not ignore it! The court that issued the subpoena can order you to appear before the court or initiate contempt proceedings against you if you fail to abide by the subpoena.
However, there is always the possibility of having the subpoena quashed – which is the legal term for getting rid of the subpoena. You may also have the subpoena modified. In order to do this, you must ask the court to quash or modify the subpoena. Grounds on which a subpoena can be quashed or modified include:
- A subpoena that does not afford you a reasonable time to comply,
- A subpoena that requires you to attend a deposition in a county other than the one where you live, work or conduct business – if you are not a party to the case or the agent of a party to the case,
- A subpoena that asks you to produce or reveal privileged or confidential (protected) information or documents, or,
- A subpoena that otherwise subjects you to undue burden or hardship.
If you are served with a subpoena, the best thing you can do is comply with it. If, however, you believe you have grounds to quash the subpoena or are concerned about the testimony and/or documents you are required to give, then you should contact an attorney right away. Your attorney can guide you on the proper course of action, whether that means filing a motion to quash or modify the subpoena or going over the questions that are likely to be asked of you.
If you or a loved one has been involved in any sort of accident, whether you were served with a subpoena or not, you should contact a qualified personal injury attorney immediately. At the Law Office of Jeremy Rosenthal, our lawyers have years of experience representing accident victims and we will fight for the compensation you deserve and need to recover from your injuries. We will thoroughly investigate the cause(s) of your accident, including all parties who could be liable, and will help you understand your rights and legal options.
For a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable Colorado lawyers, call us today for a free consultation at (303) 647-4511 or visit us online.