Subpoenas are a power tool often underutilized by attorneys. Whether the case is criminal or civil, the lawyer for either party has the power to serve subpoenas on people or businesses that aren’t even a party to the litigation. It is an order of the court compelling a party to show up and testify or possibly provide certain evidence or records.

The subpoena may be a subpoena duces tecum or business records subpoena. This kind of subpoena compels the person or entity to provide certain documents. The subpoena might just be a regular subpoena, which compels the person to attend the hearing and provide testimony at a certain time.

When may a subpoena be helpful?

  • For obtaining videos from businesses who may be reluctant to provide such data
  • For obtaining records
  • For obtaining cell phone information
  • For ordering someone to come testify in court, especially when they might not be willing to. There are often times when a witness or other third party doesn’t want to get involved or participate. The subpoena then forces them to attend. If they don’t, it is deemed contempt of court and a warrant could be issued.

The trick though, is in getting them served with the subpoena. If they aren’t properly served, it doesn’t have any legal effect.

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