Do Subpoenas Have to Be Hand Delivered?

Nov 29 2018 | posted by LORR Team

Subpoenas have to be hand delivered because it’s the safest method, as it ensures the proper person has been reached and notified.

However, it is not the only method by which a subpoena can be issued. Subpoenas, which require a witness to either produce documents or evidence or appear in court, can be delivered in a number of ways. Here are the four legal methods currently allowed for subpoena service:

  • Personal service. This refers to hand-delivery. It’s when a server visually or verbally identifies the recipient and physically hands them the subpoena in person. They can swear to the court that the subpoena was delivered to the proper party.
  • Email service. Perhaps surprisingly, email is allowed for subpoena service, as long as the recipient’s last-known email address can be identified. The server also must request read receipts or at the very least, acknowledgment of the subpoena in their message.
  • Certified mail service. Certified mail is a common method of subpoena service, as it allows the server to receive notifications once the mail has been delivered.
  • Verbal delivery. A subpoena can also be served verbally, over the phone, or in a video call. The main requirement here is that the recipient hears the full subpoena read aloud.

Unlike other court documents, subpoenas must be personally served and cannot be left in the hands of a substitute — even an adult resident of the same home or property.

Parties who don’t obey a subpoena issued in their name can be held in criminal contempt of court, so direct service is incredibly important.

Need Help With Subpoena Service?

Are you having a hard time tracking down a party you need to serve a subpoena to? Then contact LORR today. Our process servers are experts in difficult-to-find witnesses, and we’ll ensure your subpoena is delivered safely, quickly, and per the letter of the law. Contact us today to learn more or get started.


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