It is not uncommon for subpoenas to be used in divorce cases; if there are financial issues, the other party may want financial documents; if there are parenting issues, the other side may want documentation of attendance at activities, etc (I recently wrote about subpoenas in divorce cases in a previous blog post).
However, subpoenas are not limited to divorce cases, and if you have been served a subpoena it may even be regarding your or someone else’s divorce or criminal case.
As I wrote about previously, it is always best practice to consult with an attorney before taking any action on a subpoena. However, in broad, general terms, if you are subpoenaed, the first thing you have to decide is whether it is worth investigating and trying to avoid compliance, or whether it is easier/cheaper to simply comply.
Does the Subpoena Affect You?
If the subpoena doesn’t involve you, then you probably won’t need to hire an attorney. For example, let’s say you run a local daycare center and you are subpoenaed for attendance records because someone’s divorce attorney wants to know how often a particular parent dropped off the child at daycare.
In a case like this, you probably don’t need to hire an attorney. The outcome of the documents being delivered does not affect you or your ability to do business, though it may come into play in the divorce case. There may be other considerations. Will simply turning over the documents alienate a paying client? Is it setting a troublesome precedent?
That said, if you have any kind of reservation, you should contact an attorney who may raise issues about the subpoena. You attorney will ask questions like, “Was this subpoena properly issued? Was there proper service? Was it served in a timely manner?”
The answers to those questions will affect whether you are obligated to comply.
Do You Have Issues with the Subpoena?
If you have issues with the way the subpoena was served, and it will directly affect your life in a negative way to comply with the subpoena (for example, if you have to take off a day of work to appear in Court, or if the outcome of the case could negatively impact your life based on the outcome of the documents being delivered, etc.), then I recommend you contact an attorney.
If you have no issues with the subpoena, then you should comply.
Comply Fully with a Subpoena
If you have decided that you are going to comply with the subpoena, I urge you to comply fully.
In other words, if the subpoena says, “You are required to bring JANE DOE’S credit card statements to Court on February 28th at 10 am in Courtroom B in the Boulder District Court,” then that’s exactly what you should do.
Sometimes people think it will suffice for them to simply mail the records to the attorney who issued the subpoena, which is incorrect. You should also understand that in many cases, you should not trust the attorney, who may be “fishing for documents” or intending to use the information as an unfair advantage against the other party.
If you show up in Court with the documents, both sides will see them for the first time at the same time. If you simply mail the documents to one attorney, that side will have an advantage in that they can see the documents and formulate a strategy before the Court date and may use the information to pull some nasty — and unfair — punches.
In summation, if you are issued a subpoena, please read it carefully and follow the instructions exactly. If you have any doubt about how to handle it, call an attorney to get it cleared up.
If you have been issued a subpoena, don’t guess at your next best move. Call our office at 303-449-1873 to set up a free consultation.