If you are required to appear in court as a witness, you might receive a subpoena. NSW police might require you to give evidence, or submit certain documents relating to a future court hearing. A subpoena is issued by the court, and is a legal document stating what you need to do, and what documents you might need to bring to court. A subpoena requires you to attend court. Not doing so means you are breaking the law, and can be arrested and found guilty of contempt of court, as well as having to pay legal costs, if you don’t turn up.
Are there any circumstances where I don’t have to comply?
If the subpoena was not issued in accordance with court rules, or if you are advised that your evidence or documents are no longer required, you might not have to comply with the subpoena. Other instances where you might not be required to abide by the terms of the subpoena include where travel money is not included, and in certain circumstances where a court order has advised you that you do not need to attend or produce anything.
What types of subpoena are there?
There are three different types of subpoena, depending on what you are required to do:
- A subpoena for production means that you are required to produce certain documents for the court hearing, but aren’t required to provide evidence.
- A subpoena for evidence means that you aren’t required to produce any documents, but will need to give evidence.
- A subpoena for evidence and production means that you will be asked to submit certain documents and give evidence at the court hearing.
If you are in any way unsure what you are required to do, it is essential that you seek legal advice. Failing to comply with a subpoena can mean you end up arrested and facing legal and other costs.
Who is going to pay for me to travel to the court?
Travel costs of at least $25 should be paid by the person who is issuing the subpoena. If attending court means you will be left substantially out of pocket due to having to miss employment, or other reasons, you can apply to have those costs paid by the issuing party.
Will I get my documents back?
If you have received a subpoena for the production of documents only, you can provide these to the court before the date of the trial, either in person or by mail. They will be returned to you if necessary after 42 days of the outcome of final application or appeal is decided.
Can I be given a subpoena by the police?
Only the court can issue you with a subpoena. NSW Police can ask you to come in for questioning, but they can’t arrest you or force you to answer their questions if you are not the person charged with the offence. There are a number of rules and regulations that police need to abide by when interviewing suspects and potential witnesses. If you believe the police have not acted in accordance with these rules, it is a good idea to seek legal advice as soon as possible. If you have been served with a subpoena and have any questions about what you need to do or produce, it is best to check with a lawyer or legal practitioner.