Citizens receive subpoenas because their names appear in a police report as a victim or witness to a crime. A subpoena is a court order directing the person being subpoenaed to come to court at the time and location stated on the subpoena. Subpoenas can be received by mail or in person.
When a subpoena is received, contact the District Attorney’s office at the number that appears in the WITNESS INSTRUCTIONS section of the subpoena.
A subpoena is a legal court order and failure to follow subpoena instructions is punishable by a fine, imprisonment or both. Failure to appear can result in a warrant for arrest.
Calling to verify the court date and time is important! The court hearings do not always take place at the precise time scheduled on the subpoena. This happens because calendar conflicts, availability of witnesses or a legal motion can cause a case to be delayed or continued.
Arrangements are made to place the subpoenaed person “on-call” or on “telephone standby” when possible. This means the person subpoenaed can continue normal daily activity but must be available to come to the court immediately when called by the District Attorney’s Office.
Failure to appear in court at the time on the subpoena, or at the time agreed upon by with the District Attorney’s office, can be punishable as a contempt of court (California PC 131; California PC 1331.5).
The person subpoenaed is entitled to witness fees, mileage or both at the discretion of the court. For reimbursement, please contact the assigned deputy district attorney after your court appearance (California PC 1329.1).