I Have Been Subpoenaed – What Do I Have to Do

I Have Been Subpoenaed; What Do I Have to Do?

Receiving a subpoena can be a stressful time for a person or organisation, particularly if they don’t understand what’s required of them or what they should do next.

If you or a loved one have recently been subpoenaed, keep reading. In this post, we’ll walk through what a subpoena is, what happens when you receive one, and what your next steps should be after receiving one.


What is a Subpoena?

A subpoena is a legal document that is used to demand the appearance of a witness in court. A subpoena can also be used to request documents or other physical evidence. Subpoenas are often issued when an individual or company refuses or is unable to comply with this request voluntarily.

Subpoenas can be divided into three categories:

  1. A subpoena to give evidence: this requires the addressee to appear in court and deliver evidence at a certain hearing.
  2. A subpoena to produce documents: this requires the addressee to produce any documents included in the subpoena to the Court. It cannot, however, compel a witness to develop a document.
  3. A subpoena to both produce documentation and provide evidence: this requires the addressee to present documents to the Court and appear in court to testify. If the production of these materials is sufficient, however, then this form of a subpoena should not be requested.

Most subpoenas are issued by a judge or court clerk, but they can also be issued by lawyers involved in litigation or civil cases.


What You Have to Do to Comply with a Subpoena

The first thing you should do is get a copy of the subpoena. This document explains what information the other party is seeking and when it must be provided.

Second, make sure you understand what is required of you. Some subpoenas require that documents or testimony be produced, while others can be complied with simply by showing up for court on a specified date.

If there are documents requested and they are in your possession, make sure to turn them over promptly. If the demand has been made and you have not received it yet, contact the subpoena server immediately so that he or she can provide it for you as soon as possible.

Do not delay compliance because failure to adhere to the subpoena’s requests can result in criminal charges and/or fines.


What You Can Do to Challenge a Subpoena

A subpoena can be challenged on the following grounds:

  • A failure to meet the subpoena’s technical requirements
  • The subpoena is “oppressive” or regarded as an “abuse of privilege”
  • The files or information sought are protected or confidential

Depending on the sort of objection you wish to make, you may be permitted to send a notice to the court describing your grounds for objection, or you may be required to appear in court to explain your reasons.


As Soon as You Receive a Subpoena, Contact a Lawyer

It is important for you to contact a lawyer immediately after you receive your subpoena. A lawyer can walk you through the process and help you prepare for it. Additionally, a lawyer will know how to protect your interests throughout the process, including any deadlines or other requirements that may be set by law.

If you or someone you know wants more information or needs help or advice, please contact us at (03) 9422 5439 or email laurie@irvinelawyers.com.au.

Looking for a lawyer in Melbourne? We have lawyers in South Morang or Warrnambool ready to assist you.