A subpoena is a legal order issued by the court or other law enforcing agencies which makes it mandatory for the recipient to appear before the court. It does not mean that the recipient has committed a crime or any other illegal action. The recipient is only asked to testify as a witness in an ongoing case or to present the required documents or other evidence. Those living in Massachusetts usually receive a subpoena through Massachusetts constables. Massachusetts constables can also deliver subpoenas in other towns and cities within the United States.
A subpoena contains all the necessary information regarding the date and time on which you have to appear in court or have to bring a document or evidence. It is delivered by a neutral body that is not related to or employed by the parties involved in the case. That is why the constable service is usually used to serve this document.
If you ignore a subpoena you may receive the contempt of court charge and in some cases even charged with the offense of obstruction of justice.
What to do when you get a subpoena?
There is no need to worry when the court summons you. Once the constable service or some other representative of the court delivers a subpoena you have to do the following things:
- Get yourself an attorney.
- Find out whether the subpoena is for a civil or criminal case.
- Find out whether you have to testify in court or are you required to produce other evidence.
- Find out who has sent you the summons.
If you are not directly involved with the case then before taking any further action always consult your attorney. For example, you may have to appear as a witness in case of a bank robbery, or car crash or you may have to present the videotapes of certain events. Your attorney will help you protect your rights and assist you to choose the course of action that does not incriminate you in any way. It is also advisable to get in touch with the attorney who issued the document. This way if you do not posses the information the attorney thinks you do, the subpoena may have to be withdrawn. In case you have to travel to the place where your presence is required you can also receive compensation for your travel and lodging expenses by the attorney who issued the summons.
If you are directly involved in the case, you must get representation so that you can protect your rights. If you fail to respond then you will automatically end up on the loosing side.
Once the constable service or any other legal representative delivers a subpoena to you then you have to respond but you don’t have to meet the terms. Your attorney will help you choose the best course of action.