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How To Get Out Of A Subpoena?

How To Get Out Of A Subpoena

What Is A Subpoena?

A subpoena, is a legal document that compels you, to either testify as a witness, or provide evidence, for a case. There, are two main types of subpoenas:

  • A subpoena ad testificandum, requires you, to appear and give testimony.
  • A subpoena duces tecum, requires you, to produce documents or other evidence.

Receiving a subpoena, can be stressful and confusing. But, take a deep breath. We’ll walk through, what it means, and your options for responding.

Why Were You Subpoenaed?

There, are a few common reasons, why someone might be subpoenaed:

  • You have information relevant to a case, as a witness.
  • You possess documents or evidence, needed for the case.
  • You are a party involved in the case, like the defendant.

The subpoena, should explain the reason, you were summoned. But, if it’s unclear, you can contact the issuing party, for clarification.

What If You Ignore The Subpoena?

Ignoring a subpoena, is inadvisable. It’s a court order, and failure to comply, can result in civil or criminal penalties, like fines or even jail time, for contempt of court. However, there may be legal grounds, to challenge or quash the subpoena. We’ll discuss those options, in the next sections.

Challenging The Subpoena

You, may be able to challenge the subpoena, on certain legal grounds:

Improper Service

The subpoena, must be properly served, according to court rules. If service was improper, you can challenge it.

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Christine Twomey
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Guerline Menard
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Lack of Relevance

If the subpoena requests irrelevant information, or imposes an undue burden, you can object.


Some information, may be protected by legal privileges, like attorney-client or doctor-patient privilege.

Unreasonable Time/Place

The time or place specified, may be unreasonably burdensome for you.To challenge the subpoena, you’ll need to file a motion to quash or modify it, with the court that issued it, explaining your legal grounds.

Negotiating The Subpoena

Even if challenging isn’t an option, you may be able to negotiate the terms, of the subpoena:

  • Request an extension, on the deadline to respond.
  • Ask for an alternative location, that’s more convenient.
  • Narrow the scope of documents requested, to reduce the burden.

An experienced attorney, can assist with negotiations, to protect your rights and interests.

Complying With The Subpoena

If you can’t successfully challenge or negotiate the subpoena, you must comply, or face potential penalties.

Here are some tips:

  • Carefully review the subpoena’s instructions, on what’s required.
  • Gather all responsive documents or evidence requested.
  • Prepare for your testimony, by reviewing relevant facts.
  • Consider hiring an attorney, to represent you during questioning.

Providing false statements or withholding evidence, can have serious legal consequences. Full compliance is crucial.

When To Hire A Lawyer

While you can respond to a subpoena on your own, there are situations where hiring a lawyer is highly advisable:

  • The subpoena requests privileged or sensitive information.
  • You face potential criminal liability related to the case.
  • The scope of the subpoena is overly broad or burdensome.
  • You need assistance negotiating or challenging the subpoena.

An experienced attorney, can protect your rights, and ensure you don’t inadvertently waive any privileges or defenses.

Call Spodek Law group today at 212-210-1851 or schedule a free consultation online.

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