Must criminal subpoenas be served in person to be valid?

UPDATED: Oct 14, 2011

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Must criminal subpoenas be served in person to be valid?

I have been subpoenaed once in person and once by mail to testify at jury trial for domestic violence. The first time was at the defendant’s arraignment. I am the “victim” and witness for the prosecution. Due to the specifics of our case, I do not want to testify against my fiance. Can a warrant be issued for my arrest upon ignoring a mailed subpoena?

Asked on October 14, 2011 under Criminal Law, Colorado


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Under the laws of all states in this country, a subpoena to attend trial (civil or criminal) must be personally served upon the third party witness. Unless it is served in such a manner, the person desired to attend trial does not have to attend.

If you ignore a subpoena to attend trial that was personally served upon you, the result is that you can be held in contempt by the court for ignoring the subpoena to attend trial with possible fine or jail.

I would not ignore the subpoena that you were personally served with.

Good luck.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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