Only a few years ago did the Pennsylvania Supreme Court clarify subpoena witness rights. As a result, many people still find themselves confused by the process. There is also plenty of misinformation and misunderstood policy changes. If you aren’t sure what to do, you could see yourself in handcuffs.
Szar Bail Bonds has often met inmates who didn’t understand procedures, and because of that now need to bail out to manage their mistakes. When you need 24-hour service agents, contact us for assistance throughout Pennsylvania. No one offers reliable contractors with the experience you can trust like our team.
What is a Subpoena, and Why Do I Have One?
A subpoena is a direct order given on behalf of the court. Subpoenas are delivered by third parties to keep them impartial. Some people even receive court orders via email for direct contact. In any case, receiving a subpoena is something you don’t want to ignore. Even if you’re served in error, you can’t brush it off.
You may have information that is relevant to a current case or was an eyewitness. For example, if your roommate was arrested, they might want to interview you about their character. Or, if you have documents like receipts and tax records, the court may require them.
What are My Witness Rights?
A defender may recommend that their client not take the stand. It’s a common tactic that is used not to incriminate themselves further. However, anyone else that receives a subpoena does not have a choice. Witnesses must follow their court orders or risk punishment themselves.
Taking the stand does not mean you are going to jail. You could, however, if you were involved in the charges, or are found in contempt. Otherwise, you are allowed to leave after giving your witness testimony. There are times when you may have to stay until after the trial in case you are still needed.
What Changes Have Been Made to Subpoena Witness Rights?
Here in Pennsylvania, the Supreme Court updated the local laws to benefit witnesses. No longer can the courts issue a subpoena without advanced notice. Generally speaking, most people now should be given notice 21 days before trial. These changes have also been made to reflect tangible evidence.
Unless you’re instructed to, you no longer need to produce materials until trial. However, depending on what you must gather, you probably shouldn’t wait. Finally, these legal updates usually don’t apply to a subpoena for a disposition. Those circumstances have far less time than the rest of the trial.
I Have a Subpoena; What Do I Do Now?
When you’re being served a court subpoena, the instructions are relatively straightforward. First, you need to verify what type of orders you now have. Next, authenticate your subpoena for accuracy by calling the listed attorney’s office. They will be able to explain any items that don’t make sense to you.
According to their instructions, you may need to collect information from banks or other services. They also must comply with the court orders, or else they can face punishments themselves. If it’s clear that they have served you by mistake, call the attorney immediately. You can’t assume they will notice their mistake, leaving you at risk.
What Happens if I Ignore a Subpoena?
Ignoring a subpoena is seen as acting against the court’s orders. Or, if a secondary agency serves the papers, you’ll need to answer to them. Those who fail to abide by their orders will usually receive a hefty fine. Also, if the situation warrants it, you could spend time in jail.
Eventually, you will have an opportunity to explain to a judge why you didn’t comply. However, unless it’s a good excuse, they likely won’t side with you.
When in doubt, follow their instructions to the letter to avoid unnecessary punishments. If you do find yourself being arrested, contact Szar Bail Bonds for 24-hour agents.