Do I Have to Respond to a Subpoena?
It is a knock on the front door that very few people look forward to: The process server. Whether it’s a court employee or a law enforcement officer, few want to be handed a subpoena, as it signals the legal responsibility to appear in court or provide information.
Even if you have done nothing wrong, you may be subject to a subpoena. When you read the notice, you will discover what you are being ordered to do. You may be required to appear at a hearing or bring forth some type of documentation. No matter what the reason it was received, you may be wondering if you have to respond. The short answer is: Yes. Here’s the more detailed answer:
1. When You Don’t Want to Testify
Giving testimony, in most cases, is nothing to worry about. You go to court, you swear to tell the truth, and you provide the information being asked for. In most instances, the attorney who has called you to provide testimony will meet with you ahead of time. The attorney will want to be sure that they understand the information you will give the court. If you don’t know an answer, all you need to do is say so.
There are certain situations, however, when giving testimony could land you in your own legal trouble. When you have any concern that this could happen, you should consult with an attorney of your own before the date on your subpoena. You have rights, under the Fifth Amendment, to not be forced to incriminate yourself. If this will happen if you testify, your attorney will likely try to keep your testimony out of court.
2. When You Don’t Want to Hand Over Documents
When you read your subpoena, it may ask for specific documents and not oral testimony. Just like with testimony, some documents may incriminate you. Again, an attorney will be able to assist you when this is the case. No matter what you do, do not get frightened and destroy the documents. This could result in criminal charges of destroying evidence.
If the documents you are asked to produce are not incriminating, you will need to produce them. You do not have a choice in the matter. If you fail to produce the documents, you could be charged with contempt of court. If there is some reason that you do not want to hand the documents over to the court, speak with your own attorney for guidance.
In most cases, ignoring a subpoena is not a wise choice. The document is a legal one that you are bound to respond to. If you don’t, you could face fines, jail time and more. If you have any question as to why you have been asked to give testimony or documents to the court, speak to the attorney who requested the information. If you have any question as to whether adhering to the subpoena will land you in hot water, speak to an attorney of your own.
If you have been charged with a crime in Atlanta, you have legal rights. Call our office today and speak with a member of our team about a free case evaluation.