The Power of a Subpoena

Pen-Court-Document-582315The Power of a Subpoena in California

A subpoena is a powerful legal tool to utilize when in need of pertinent information to win a lawsuit. Subpoenas are often used in civil matters to help gather evidence that is hard to obtain.

There are two main types of subpoenas: 1) A subpoena duces tecum; and 2) A subpoena testificandum.

A subpoena duces tecum is a court summons which orders a party to appear before the court and produce documents or other tangible evidence for use at a hearing or trial. It is a Latin phrase meaning "bring with you under penalty of punishment.” A subpoena testificandum orders an individual to testify before a court, or other legal tribunal.

A person who receives a subpoena and fails to comply with its terms will be subject to civil or criminal penalties, such as fines, jail time, or both.

Who Can Issue a Subpoena?

An attorney can issue a signed subpoena on behalf of the court in which the attorney is authorized to practice law. Individuals acting “In Pro Per” can also issue a signed subpoena upon a party in a legal proceeding.

How to Serve a Subpoena in California

Once an attorney requests a subpoena, it must be personally served on the subpoenaed party by someone who is over the age of 18 and not a party to the action. Proper service of process cannot be effectuated by mailing the subpoena under California State law.

(a)    Subject to subdivision (c) of Section 2020.410, service of a deposition subpoena shall be effected a sufficient time in advance of the deposition to provide the deponent a reasonable opportunity to locate and produce any designated business records, documents, electronically stored information, and tangible things, as described in Article 4 (commencing with Section 2020.410), and, where personal attendance is commanded, a reasonable time to travel to the place of deposition.

(b) Any person may serve the subpoena by personal delivery of a copy of it as follows:

(1)   If the deponent is a natural person, to that person.

(2)   If the deponent is an organization, to any officer, director, custodian of records, or to any agent or employee authorized by the organization to accept service of a subpoena.

Additionally, all served subpoenas must be accompanied by a Proof of Service signed under the penalty of perjury by the server.

At Direct Legal Support, Inc., we serve subpoenas throughout California and across the U.S. The proper preparation that goes into personally serving a subpoena can be a time consuming process. Our skilled registered process servers can track down any party and serve your subpoena. We invite you to contact us for more information about our service.


CAL. CCP. CODE § 2020.220 : California Code - Section 2020.220