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5 Tips If You're Subpoenaed for a Deposition

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

Receiving a subpoena either in person or in the mail can be nerve-wracking, but being subpoenaed for a deposition doesn't have to be anxiety-inducing.

To ease your stress, here are five tips to consider if you receive a deposition subpoena:

1. Verify the Subpoena Is for You.

A subpoena is nothing more than a legal request by either a court or a party to a lawsuit that a person appear in court or other legal proceeding.

While many subpoenas are "served" (i.e., legally delivered) personally by someone handing you the documents, some are delivered by mail. So it's possible that you could receive a subpoena that is for a prior resident or a neighbor. Verify that the person listed on the subpoena is in fact you before worrying about the rest.

2. Check the Date and Place to Appear.

All subpoenas will have a date, time, and address of the deposition you've at which been requested to appear. Most depositions take place outside of courtrooms at third-party deposition offices.

Make sure that you map out your route and arrive on time to your scheduled deposition. Also, keep in mind there may be rules about where your deposition can be held (for example, within a certain radius of your home, as required in California civil cases) and even how long your deposition can last (for example, depos in federal civil cases are generally "limited to one day of seven hours").

3. Notice How the Depo Is Recorded.

All depositions will be accompanied by a stenographer, who will type into a special machine to transcribe the deposition into words.

Sometimes deposition audio and/or video will also be recorded; if so, your deposition notice should give you advance warning. If you're uncomfortable with being recorded in this manner, contact the attorney listed at the top of the deposition.

4. Gather Any Requested Documents.

Subpoenas often not only request that a person appear to testify at a deposition, but also that the recipient bring documents with him or her to the deposition.

Don't ignore this request even if you're confused about what documents to bring. Contact the attorney listed on the subpoena if you have any questions.

5. Tell the Truth.

Depositions are different from hearings or trials in court. At minimum, a deposition is just the deponent (you) being asked questions by an attorney, recorded by a stenographer or other recording device.

While there is no judge, jury, or maybe even other lawyers at a deposition, your answers to questions in a deposition are under oath. Lying in a deposition is perjury, which is a serious crime, so just answer questions truthfully.

Still feel like you need representation? You may want to contact an attorney experienced in your type of case today.

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