In court cases, both civil and criminal, it is sometimes necessary for the judge to compel witnesses to come to the courtroom to share what they know about a particular incident. 

For instance, if you’re arrested for a white collar crime in Cincinnati, the prosecution might want to have a witness come to court to offer testimony in support of their case. 

For many different reasons, the witness in question might not be eager to come forward and testify. It could be because they don’t want the hassle of going to court or it could be because they might be in danger if they tell what they know about a crime.

Their testimony, however, can sometimes be crucial to determining the truth and what is fair and just. When a defense attorney or prosecutor wants the judge to require such a witness to testify, they can request the judge issue a subpoena. A subpoena is a written notice issued by a judge that compels an individual to show up to court on a particular date. 

If a person fails to show up when a subpoena has been issued, they could be held in contempt of court and face steep fines and even jail time. In some cases, it is evidence that is subpoenaed. If this is the case, the owner of that evidence, maybe the CEO of a company, is required to make sure the evidence is submitted as outlined in the subpoena or else they could face the consequences of being held in contempt of court.

How Subpoenas Are Served?

In many cases, a judge will have a professional process server deliver the subpoena to the person or company it applies to. A process server follows strict protocols about approaching the person in question and offers proof of service to guarantee that the subpoena has been fairly delivered.

This can take place in public or a process server can serve a subpoena to a person in their home. Either way, once the subpoena has been served, the person who received it is required to be at the courthouse on the date specified in the subpoena.

How is a Subpoena Different from a Summons? A Bench Warrant?

Another document a judge might issue is known as a summons. A summons likewise requires a person appear before a judge, but not to testify or offer evidence. Usually, a summons is issued to a person because they are being sued. The summons, like a subpoena, is issued by a judge, served by a process server, and compels the individual to go to court. However, with a summons, a failure to appear before the court might not lead to a fine or jail time, just the loss of the lawsuit.

Another notice a judge might issue is called a bench warrant. When an individual has been charged with a crime, they are required to appear before the judge at various hearings and even trial. Rather than spending the time between arrest and trial in jail, many defendants get out on bail with the promise they will show up to court when told. If a defendant fails to do so, the judge could issue a bench warrant for the arrest of the person. 

In all three cases, the judge issues a writ requiring appearance in his or her courtroom. Obviously, whether it is a subpoena, a summons, or a bench warrant, it is in your best interest to follow the order and show up to court when you are supposed to. Following the order of the judge will not only help you stay out of legal trouble, but it will help justice be served.

If you have received a subpoena, a summons, or have a bench warrant out for your arrest, it is to your advantage to hire a qualified criminal defense attorney to advise you on how to proceed. A good criminal defense lawyer will know how to work with you and the judge to minimize any penalty and get the case resolved in a favorable way.

To learn more, call our Cincinnati criminal defense law firm at (513) 333-0014 or visit our contact us page to send us an email.