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J.Hazelbaker
J.Hazelbaker, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 4385
Experience:  Extensive training and experience in criminal law matters, both prosecuting and defending.
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what if never directly recieved a subpoena to appear in court

Resolved Question:

what if never directly recieved a subpoena to appear in court as a witness in a criminal case i know nothing about?? can i get in trouble for not appearing?? im located in new mexico..
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  J.Hazelbaker replied 2 years ago.

J.Hazelbaker :

Hello. Thank you for using JustAnswer.

J.Hazelbaker :

In order for a subpoena to be effective, you do not need to be directly served in person.

J.Hazelbaker :

A subpoena can be left at your place of residence or given to a responsible party at your place of residence or work.

J.Hazelbaker :

However, if neither of those has occurred and you haven't personally received the subpoena, then you can ignore it.

J.Hazelbaker :

Legally, there is no obligation to comply with a subpoena you have heard about, but which has not effectively been served upon you.

J.Hazelbaker :

On the other hand, if the issuing party believes that you were properly served, they can convince the court to issue a warrant for your arrest.

J.Hazelbaker :

That is the worst case scenario. Fighting that it time consuming and energy-draining, though you can win by demonstrating the lack of service.

Customer:

no niether of the above has been done.. i havent gotten served but i know there trying to serve me...

J.Hazelbaker :

O.K. In that situation, unless they are successful you don't have to show.

J.Hazelbaker :

You don't have a legal obligation to make it easy for them.

Customer:

so if i never get served directly wich i thought it had to be... theres no way no how they can issue a warrent?? i just dont want to go to jail... i wanna be sure

J.Hazelbaker :

The subpoena can be left at your house or work with someone over the age of 18, or directly served to you personally. If not, then service has not been made and a warrant can not issue.

Customer:

so let me get this straight.. if its at my door when i get home, i could consider myself served?? what if im out of town when the subpoena is served at home or to a family memeber for me? can i still get a warrent that way?

J.Hazelbaker :

No. They can't leave it at your door. But, they can leave it with an adult (e.g. a roommate).

Customer:

actually i should be asking, what are the consequences for not appearing if i do end up getting served and dont appear?

J.Hazelbaker :

If it is left with an adult at your home or work and you are out of time and can't appear, then you have not violated the subpoena because compliance was not possible. By law, a subpoena has to be reasonable.

J.Hazelbaker :

O.K., if you are validly served and you don't appear.

J.Hazelbaker :

Typically, the court will give you another chance before a warrant is issued.

J.Hazelbaker :

Worst case is that a warrant is issued and you are arrested and held until you can give your testimony.

Customer:

are you saying they can jail you until the next court date? or until you agree to testify in the next court?

J.Hazelbaker :

Yes.

J.Hazelbaker :

But that rarely happens.

J.Hazelbaker :

That's the worst case scenario.

J.Hazelbaker :

It's called contempt of court.

J.Hazelbaker :

what will likely happen is that the judge will tell the party who subpoenaed you to continue with their case. If, at the end of the case, the party says they still need to call you as a witness because your testimony is critical and you still haven't showed, then the judge would consider issuing a warrant.

Customer:

this case is still waiting to get bonded over to district court. and from my understanding without the witnesses they cant move foward with that.. or i that not true?? thats why i may be thinking they really want me to appear..

J.Hazelbaker :

Yes. That could be true.

J.Hazelbaker :

At least it passes the "smell" test.

Customer:

so does that mean if they really want me.. they could legally get me in trouble?

J.Hazelbaker :

Only if the properly serve you. Unless the can properly serve you, there is nothing they can do.

Customer:

so say worst case scenerio i do end up having to get on that stand to testify... am i obligated to talk or can i remain silent or say i dont remember... because i really was drunk when this happened...

J.Hazelbaker :

Yes.

J.Hazelbaker :

That's all you have to say is that you were intoxicated and you don't remember.

J.Hazelbaker :

They can't compel you to make stuff up. They can compel you to appear in court--if they properly serve you--but they can't compel you to say anything specific.

Customer:

so even if it was to piss the judge off... she couldnt get me for contempt or any other jailable offense?

J.Hazelbaker :

That's correct. As long as you don't lie, there's nothing they can do.

J.Hazelbaker :

Please let me know what follow-up questions you have. If my above responses have been helpful, please click Accept so that I get credit for the time/effort. You may always restart the thread and ask follow-up questions at any time by clicking the “Reply” button at the bottom of the question/answer thread. You can access this thread later in your profile under the “My Questions” tab.

Customer:

yes youve been great... but one more question...when the subpoenas being served and your roommate, girlfriend, etc. refuses to accept responsibilaty of the subpoena? can it still be left with them?

J.Hazelbaker :

As long as the server doesn't get it in their hands, then they can refuse. Once they take possession of it, game over.

Customer:

ok thanks alot... and im sure ill have follow up questions later when i think of them... i will log back on... how is that done or do i have to pay all over again

J.Hazelbaker :

No. Once you Accept this question, you can access it again in your My Questions tab. You can then post follow-up questions without having to restart a new question.

Customer:

ok thanx again

J.Hazelbaker, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 4385
Experience: Extensive training and experience in criminal law matters, both prosecuting and defending.
J.Hazelbaker and 3 other Criminal Law Specialists are ready to help you

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