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Posted on November 25, 2020 in Criminal Defense

What is a Subpoena?

In various types of court cases, whether it be civil, criminal, or family law, it is sometimes necessary to compel a person to either attend a hearing or trial as a witness or to submit documents relevant to the case. Obviously, this can sometimes prove difficult if the individual in question doesn’t want to do so.

In Arizona, as in the other states in the country, the courts use what are known as subpoenas to essentially force those individuals to show up at court on a particular date or tender evidence within a given timeframe. Once the individual has been served the subpoena, they are required by law to do what it says and could be arrested if they fail to do so.

Often, people think that the prosecutor, in an effort to make his or her case against a person charged with a crime, is the only one who can use a subpoena. However, a defendant, with the assistance of their lawyer, can issue subpoenas via the court as well.

Two Different Types of Subpoenas

There are two different types of subpoenas criminal defense attorneys can use when defending their client, which are:

Witness Subpoenas

If there are witnesses who could help establish the innocence of a defendant, but for some reason are hesitant to testify in court, the defense can request they be served a subpoena. If the judge agrees to do so, the witness would be forced to testify in court and truthfully explain what they know about the case. If they have been properly served the subpoena and fail or refuse to attend on the date specified, they could be arrested and held in contempt of court.

Subpoena Duces Tecum

The second type of subpoena allows criminal defense attorneys to request documents from individuals and businesses that are relevant to their case. Normally, these documents would be confidential and impossible for the defense to get their hands on.

But with the subpoena duces tecum, they can use those documents to maintain their innocence. Like a witness subpoena, a subpoena duces tecum requires compliance. A failure to submit the documents outlined in the subpoena could result in the arrest of the owner of the documents.

Both of these two types of subpoenas are extremely powerful tools in a criminal defense attorney’s arsenal. They do, however, require a certain level of skill to be wielded effectively.

Serving a Subpoena

As noted above, a subpoena is only valid if it has been delivered appropriately. Like most states, Arizona has clear rules about how and when a process server can serve legal notices, like subpoenas, to individuals.

In the case of a subpoena, the process server needs to physically deliver the document into the hands of the witness or person the defendant is seeking documents from. If for some reason the process server is unable to properly serve the subpoena, there are other ways to do so. However, those methods require approval from the judge.

Criminal Defense Attorney

The power of the subpoena is one reason why it is absolutely crucial you have a skilled lawyer representing you. Effective counsel is one of the most important factors in the defense of any charge.

In addition to utilizing subpoenas, a quality criminal defense attorney will thoroughly investigate your case, prepare witnesses for trial, and gather the evidence necessary to mount a robust defense. They will also use a variety of motions to make sure the trial is conducted fairly and will vigorously cross-examine witnesses put forward by the state.

If you have been charged with domestic violence, a sex offense, or another crime, talk to a seasoned Phoenix criminal defense attorney immediately to ensure the best possible outcome in your case.

 

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