What it Means to be “Served Papers”

You’ve seen the movie scene a dozen times. Someone (usually wearing sunglasses) asks another person if their name is “so-and-so” and if they say yes, they give them a stack of papers or drop them at their feet. They usually say something to the effect of “You’ve been served.” This is a movie trope used to convey a person getting subpoenaed, but the reality is a little bit different.

Reasons you Might be Subpoenaed

Typically, subpoenas are issued for one of two reasons. Either a subpoena preparation San Diego CA company is sending papers to compel you to testify as a witness, or to produce evidence against a charge. If you are the defendant, this can be in response to everything from tax considerations to child support. A witness can be subpoenaed for nearly any reason. While a subpoena does not compel you to give any sort of specific testimony one way or another, it legally cannot be ignored or refused.

The Serving Process

A sheriff’s deputy or process server generally presents subpoenas. While it’s true that it’s preferable for the recipient to acknowledge receipt, in many cases the documents can be left on their property, or at their place of employment. Of course, regulations vary from state to state, but the movie scene of confirming the recipient’s name, dropping the papers and running away is far-fetched.

What Comes Next

“Subpoena” comes from the Latin for “under penalty.” As we said earlier, it is not legal to ignore a subpoena. If you are ordered to appear in court on a certain day, you need to make the necessary arrangements to do so. If you were anticipating the subpoena, it is likely appropriate to contact the attorney who prepared it. If, however, the subpoena is hostile and against your best interests, you should contact and retain your own attorney as soon as possible.

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