WITH the insurmountable amount of legal cases in the media, nonfiction or fiction, it is almost certain that you have heard the word “subpoena” used at least once. 

However, the meaning of the word is never explicitly explained in pieces of media. It is important to know what receiving a subpoena means if you ever do.

“Subpoena” literally translates to ...under penalty... from LatinGetty Images - Getty

According to legal information website FindLaw, a subpoena is a legal document production order or request to appear in court or in another legal action. 

It is a court-ordered instruction that forces you to do something, such as testify or present evidence that may support the facts in a pending case. media

A person who receives a subpoena but fails to comply with its provisions may face civil or criminal sanctions, including fines, imprisonment, or both.

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How does a subpoena get served?

A subpoena is normally issued by a court clerk, a notary public, or a justice of the peace after an attorney requests it, according to FindLaw. 

When a subpoena is issued, it can be served to someone by hand delivery, an email, certified mail (or snail mail), or having it read to you.

A subpoena can be issued and signed on behalf of a court in which the attorney is permitted to practice law in most cases. 

A subpoena typically asks you to present at a specific location, time, and date to testify as a witness in a specific caseGetty Images - Getty

What are the purposes of subpoenas?

Subpoenas allow attorneys to obtain material to aid prove or refute their client's case under state and federal civil or criminal procedural procedures, according to FindLaw. 

Subpoenas are frequently used by criminal attorneys to elicit ...witness... or lay opinion testimony from a third party, which can help determine someone's guilt or innocence at trial. 

Civil attorneys frequently issue subpoenas to persons in order to gather information that can aid in the settlement of a case.

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