KLG Header Image

Definition of the Week: Subpoena


A subpoena is a request for the production of documents. It is also a request to appear in court or any other legal proceeding.

A subpoena is essentially a court-ordered demand, such as to testify or provide information to help support the facts that are at issue during a pending case.  The word “subpoena” translates to “under penalty.” By not complying with a subpoena, the individual to whom it was issued faces penalties, fines and even jail time.

What Can A Subpoena Be Used For?

A subpoena allows attorneys to attaint useful information that can aid in their case. Both criminal and civil attorneys use subpoenas, but for different reasons.A criminal attorney may use a subpoena in order to gain a testimony from a third party in order to prove guilt or innocence.

Common information obtained by a subpoena include:

  • Computer Files
  • Confidential Records
  • DNA Samples
  • Medical Records
  • Blood Test Results
  • Tax Return Information

Two Types

There are two types of subpoenas, the subpoena ad testifcandum and the subpoena duces tecum. The first type requires you to testify before a court or other legal authority, while the second type requires you to produce documents, materials, or other concrete evidence.

Who Issues the Subpoena?

Most commonly, subpoenas can be issued and signed by a licensed attorney on behalf of the court. In other cases, such as where the subpoena is served for a higher-ranked official, then it must be signed by an administrative law judge. In rare cases, a subpoena may also be issued by any lay person if acting on his or her own behalf. This is known as pro se representation.

It’s very important to take subpoenas seriously. Failure to comply or answer to them will often result in fines or imprisonment. For any other questions about subpoena, contact the professionals at KLG.

Share This Post

Schedule a Free Initial Consultation Today

    Related Posts