Los Angeles, CA asked in Family Law, Child Custody, Child Support and Civil Litigation for California

Q: If a subpoena for personal documents is not properly served do I still need to respond? And if so, how do I respond?

I have been served via email with a subpoena to provide my personal bank financial documentation. The forms were filed on 4/26 and the subpoena was served via email to me today 5/8. The date for which I am being asked for documentation is on 5/10 at 8am. I object to providing my personal information but am wondering if I have to provide any type of response since it was not properly served.

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Divorce Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Under California law, a subpoena must be properly served to be legally binding. If a subpoena is not properly served, you may not be legally obligated to respond. However, it is generally advisable to provide some form of response to avoid potential legal complications.

In California, a subpoena for personal records should be served personally, by mail, or by messenger. Email service is not considered proper service under California law unless the parties have previously agreed to accept service by email or electronic means.

Given the short notice and the improper service, you have a few options:

1. Contact the party who issued the subpoena and inform them that you believe the subpoena was not properly served under California law. You can request that they properly serve the subpoena if they still require the documents.

2. File an objection to the subpoena with the court, stating that the subpoena was not properly served and that you do not have sufficient time to respond given the short notice. You can also object to the subpoena on other grounds, such as the request being overly broad, burdensome, or seeking privileged information.

3. Consult with an attorney who specializes in civil litigation or personal privacy matters. They can provide more specific guidance based on the details of your case and help you draft an appropriate response.

Remember, even if you believe the subpoena was not properly served, it is essential to respond in some manner to demonstrate that you are not ignoring a legal request. Failure to respond at all could potentially lead to legal consequences.

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