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How To Serve a Subpoena

  • August 04, 2011
  • by ServeNow Staff

ServeNow is not a legal entity - If you need legal advice or help completing a subpoena, contact a lawyer or legal support service professional.

SubpoenaWhen handling legal matters or investigations, individuals needed to testify or provide physical evidence can be difficult to locate or uncooperative. A process server can ensure that a subpoena is served in a timely and legal fashion.

What is a subpoena?

A subpoena is a legal document that orders an individual to testify for an investigation or legal proceeding at a specific date and time. A subpoena can be a summons for a person to provide testimony at a trial, testify during the early stages of an investigation, or provide physical evidence relevant to the case.

How do you prepare a subpoena?

Legal professionals can prepare a subpoena in accordance with your state's laws, and your local county court will have the appropriate paperwork (a subpoena duces tecum) to complete. To prepare a subpoena, you should know what evidence/documents you want to use in a court of law, and who has them in their possession. Once the appropriate subpoena duces tecum paperwork is complete, submit the forms to a court clerk for approval. While keeping one copy of the official subpoena from the court clerk for your own records, hire a professional process server to serve the subpoena to the intended individual.

Why do you need to have a subpoena served?

As part of the legal process, the person must be notified that they are required to testify. As a party to the case, you and your family members are prohibited from serving the papers, so you can turn to a process server to deliver the subpoena.

Who serves Subpoenas?

The rules of service vary from state to state, although in many states anyone over the age of 18 who is not associated with the case may serve the subpoena. It is a good idea to hire a professional process server, however, to ensure service is done quickly, accurately, and in accordance with state and federal laws. This person can serve the subpoena by hand delivery, e-mail (with receipt of acknowledgment requested), mail to the recipient’s address with return receipt requested, or by reading it aloud to the receiving party.

How a process server will help you serve a subpoena

Hiring a professional process server to serve your subpoena has several advantages, including:

  • They can locate hard-to-find individuals. In matters regarding the legal process, individuals can often prove to be evasive and difficult to locate. Process servers have experience locating and serving hard-to-find individuals through methods like skip tracing, a process that utilizes public records, databases, research, and other investigative tactics to locate and serve an individual.
  • They know how to serve uncooperative individuals. Process servers are trained in defusing heated and confrontational situations, so relying on a professional ensures that difficult individuals will be successfully served.  
  • They will abide by the laws. With strict laws that vary from state to state regarding how, when, and where an individual can be served a subpoena, a professional can ensure that the service of process is done legally. Process servers know that abiding by local and state laws will help prevent problems, delays, and even dismissals later in the legal process.
  • They will provide legal proof of service. After the subpoena has been served to the individual, the process server will also file proof of service known as an Affidavit of Service, providing legally acceptable documentation that the person was served. 

Due to the nature of investigative, and often time-sensitive cases, turning to a process server is the fastest, easiest, and sometimes safest way to get your subpoena served.

How to do I find a trusted local process server?

ServeNow.com is a trusted network of local, pre-screened process servers. To find a professional process server on ServeNow.com, please do a search for a city or zip code or call (877) 737-8366.

What do I need to do if I receive a subpoena?

Since a subpoena is a legal request for evidence, you will need to produce the evidence or documents by the provided deadline. Do not destroy or tamper with the evidence. If you do not want to produce evidence for fear of incriminating yourself, you should contact a lawyer for legal assistance.

What are the reasons to deny or delay producing evidence in a subpoena?

  • Irrelevant documents
  • Insufficient timeframe to prepare evidence
  • Disclosed, privileged, or confidential information
  • Evidence request is vague
  • Undue burden or expense producing evidence
  • Improper process service of the subpoena

If you are considering denying or delaying producing evidence under subpoena, we recommend contacting a lawyer for legal advice.


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