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What Happens When You Ignore a Subpoena?

Appearing in court is something that most people want to avoid in their lifetimes. It can be a daunting experience, and you feel like you’ve done something wrong as soon as you step into the courthouse.

But sometimes, your presence in court is necessary. Judges order subpoenas that require you to be there legally.

You don’t want to go to court, let alone be forced to go. So, you decide to ignore the subpoena. But you’re not sure about the consequences.

Getting on a judge’s wrong side isn’t a good idea, and if you ignore a subpoena, you can face some legal consequences. Continue reading to learn more about what happens if you miss a summons.

What Is a Subpoena?

A subpoena, or court summons, is a document issued by a judge that demands a recipient to comply with the court’s orders. Sometimes you’re called to be a witness in a case.

Other times an individual might need to present documentary evidence of something unrelated to their summons. Whatever the reason is, you need to make sure you go to the court date issued by the judge.

Can I Ignore a Subpoena?

No, you should not ignore a subpoena because a judge will find you in contempt of court. Ignoring a subpoena comes with severe consequences such as:

  • Possible jail time
  • Paying a penalty

Jail sentences can be six months or more. A fine can cost you as much as $1000. Yes, subpoenas are an inconvenience. But going to jail and paying a hefty fine isn’t worth it either.

Different Types of Subpoenas

When a judge issues a subpoena, it can be for different reasons. They will be given on your summons.

Subpoenas can appear in the mail or be given to you by a court officer. Once you receive the summons, the clock starts ticking. Depending on the type you receive, you’ll need to adhere to the requests.

Witness Subpoena

Witness subpoenas are the most common summons issued. It will require you to come to the court on a specific day. You’ll most likely give witness testimony for an ongoing trial.

Subpoena Duces Tucem

Duces Tucem is a Latin term. When you translate it, it means “You shall bring with you.”

If you were filing a medical malpractice case, any documents, records, or other information would need to be given to the court. Sometimes you can email or post the documents to the court without appearing in person.

Deposition Subpoena

Deposition subpoenas require you to produce documents, even if you aren’t part of a lawsuit. Sometimes these summons’ can have you answer questions relating to the case on a specific day.

The deposition that you participate in is part of the “discovery process” of a trial. Lawyers can not use your testimony in actual court proceedings.

Don’t Ignore a Subpoena

When you ignore a subpoena, you’re only getting yourself into more trouble. Judges can be harsh when they want to be. For your sake, it’s better to answer the summons and get through the process as smoothly as possible.

Hopefully, this article has been helpful. If it has, read our other blog posts that might be of interest to you.

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