I just received a Subpoena in a criminal case, do I have to come to court?
This article is not intended as advice for your specific matter. Rather, it is a general article about Nevada law. If you have questions about your particular case, please call Hinds Injury Law Las Vegas immediately at (702) 940-1234. This information is valid as of July 24, 2017.
Most people do not want to go to court and when they receive a subpoena they look for a way to find out of appearing in court.
If you receive a lawful subpoena and do nothing to fight it, then you must appear in court. Sections 174.305 et seq of the Nevada Revised Statutes provides the process for issuing a subpoena. Although you might think that only the court could issue a subpoena and force you to come to court, section 174.315 gives the prosecutors and defense attorneys to subpoena witnesses and to make them bring documents with them to court.
How is a subpoena supposed to be served?
Sections 174.315, and 174.345 of the Nevada Revised Statutes provides the ways in which a subpoena can be served. Under NRS 174.345(1), a subpoena must be served by a peace officer or a nonparty over 18 years of age and delivering a copy of the subpoena to the person named. This would require face to face service of the subpoena. However, in misdemeanor cases, the statute allows for the subpoena to be mailed to the person via certified mail.
So, if you receive a subpoena in person, you have probably been properly served. If you receive one in the mail, you should check and see if it is for a misdemeanor case and if the party properly filed a certificate of service within two days of it having been mailed under NRS 174.345(3).
What about an oral promise to appear?
Subsection 3 of NRS 174.315 allows service of a subpoena to be completed if the witness agrees verbally to appear. However, there are some extra requirements for completing service this way. The person who accepted the oral promise to appear has to 1) identify himself to the witness by name and occupation; 2) make a written note as to when the promise was made and to whom it was made including the identifying information of that person; and 3) sign a certificate of service containing all of this information. If any of these steps are missing, particularly the execution of the certificate of service under Hernandez v. State, 124 Nev. 639 (2008), then the service has not been completed.
How can I fight the subpoena?
Not all subpoenas are valid if fought in court. If the subpoena asks for privileged information, such as attorney-client communications, it can be fought in court. The only real way to fight a subpoena is to hire an attorney.
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