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What Should You Do If You Are Served With a Subpoena?

Served a subpoena document

In many kinds of cases, a subpoena is used. In family law cases such as divorce or child custody modifications, a subpoena is often used to obtain financial information or documentation, or to compel or request someone to come to court to provide information about the children, their best interests or needs.

If you have been served with a subpoena, it is important to obtain a consultation with an experienced attorney to discuss how you should address the subpoena. Generally, the first issue is to make sure the subpoena has been complied with. If you provide confidential documents in the wrong way, or to an improper subpoena, you risk violating HIPAA (Health Information Portability and Accountability Act), FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), the Banking Secrecy Act (BSA), the Right to Financial Privacy Act, among many other acts, rules and regulations. Once you consult with a lawyer to determine if the subpoena is proper, properly served and the records are appropriate to provide, you can then work with a lawyer to appropriately supply the records, rearrange a deposition or request accommodations related to appearing at trial.

How Does the Subpoena Affect You?

If you are serve a subpoena and you do not have records, you have no information about the situation and/or the subpoena should not have been serve on you, you may not need to retain legal counsel. You may be able to simply convey your belief that the subpoena was improperly served. In other circumstances, you may be asked for something non-controversial such as school attendance records. Again, it is important that you make sure to understand the procedure of providing documents/records, but there may not be significant involvement of legal counsel needed.

In other situations, if you turn over records for one parent that may harm or hurt the other parent, you may have an upset or frustrated client. In these circumstances, it is probably best to retain legal counsel to assist you with communicating the information you have and an appropriate method to supply the documents and information requested.

What If there Are Concerns with the Subpoena?

If the subpoena was improperly served, it requests improper information or you are concerned that supplying the information could result in you violating another person’s confidentiality, it is necessary to retain legal counsel. In other circumstances, if you are a professional witness and required to rearrange patients or other employment obligations, it may be worthwhile to hire legal counsel to seek payment for your time.

Some people believe that if they are going to comply with the subpoena, it is sufficient for them to simply mail the records to the attorney issuing the subpoena. However, doing this in violation of the required court process for supplying documents could result in concerns for the person supplying the information. Generally, unless a lawyer helps you arrange an alternative process, you are required to show up at the court location or deposition with the records and wait for instructions from the judge or lawyers present.

If you have been issued a subpoena as a professional, business or individual and you are unsure how you should proceed, please call Pingel Family Law at (816) 208-8130 to schedule a consultation and we can assist with you a plan to respond and ensure that all of your duties in the process are met.