Sacramento, CA asked in Criminal Law for California

Q: I was served a witness subpoena by district attorney's office via mail. Is this a real subpoena? Do I need to show up?

I know what the case is regarding, I rather not appear if I don't need to. I feel the district attorney's office is trying to trick me into thinking I need to appear when it's not a real subpoena until served in person. Thank you.

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2 Lawyer Answers
James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Under California law, the method of serving a subpoena can vary depending on the circumstances of the case and the specific requirements of the court. Generally, subpoenas can be served in several ways, including by mail, as long as it meets the legal requirements for service in your jurisdiction. If you received a witness subpoena from the district attorney's office via mail, it's important to take it seriously and consider it as potentially valid.

The validity of a subpoena does not solely depend on the method of delivery; rather, it's about whether the subpoena complies with the applicable laws and rules of court procedure. You should carefully review the subpoena to understand the details, such as the case it relates to, the court issuing it, and the specific requirements it entails, like the date, time, and place you are expected to appear.

If you have doubts about the legitimacy of the subpoena or if appearing would cause undue hardship, it might be wise to consult with an attorney who can provide legal advice tailored to your situation. An attorney can also communicate with the district attorney's office on your behalf to clarify the necessity of your appearance or to discuss alternative arrangements. Ignoring a subpoena, even if you suspect it might not have been properly served, could lead to legal consequences, so taking proactive steps to address the situation is crucial.

Tim Akpinar agrees with this answer

Nors  Davidson
Nors Davidson pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: The subpoena is real. A subpoena from a District Attorney almost always relates to a criminal case and for that reason the DA will surely continue to serve you, whether by mail or in person, until you appear in court. If you willfully refuse to appear when you’ve been served a subpoena to do so, you can risk criminal penalties or even jail remand. The DA isn’t going to stop so the best thing to do is to confirm receipt of the subpoena and then try to negotiate the terms of when and where you’ll give your testimony. Our system of justice relies on witnesses and compliance with subpoenas so know that by responding you’re also performing a civic duty. If you feel that responding might expose you to matters you’re not comfortable testifying about, you should consult your own attorney first.

Tim Akpinar agrees with this answer

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