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No matter the case, we’re dedicated to finding the best possible outcome. While we can’t guarantee a particular result, we’ll fight for you at every turn and with our experience, we’ve likely handled a case like yours.

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How Do I Get Out of a Subpoena?

If you’ve been served a subpoena to testify in court, there are many reasons you might want to avoid it. Testifying in state or federal court does present risks, and you should avoid the chance of adverse consequences if possible.

However, you cannot just ignore the subpoena. If you do, you might face charges for contempt of court, a federal criminal offense. A knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer could help you get out of a subpoena.

What Is a Subpoena?

A subpoena is a legal document issued by a court order that requires action by the person named in that document. The term “subpoena” literally means “under penalty.” Failure to comply with a federal subpoena can lead to severe consequences, including incarceration and fines.

A subpoena generally requires a person to appear in court or at a legal proceeding. A person who is the subject of a subpoena must provide testimony about topics relevant to a specific case. You may also be issued a command to bring particular documents or evidence.

Protecting Your Interests after You’re Served

While you may want to protect yourself, you cannot ignore a subpoena.

However, you can still protect your interests if you’re served. There may be a legal reason that would allow you to avoid testifying or providing documents. A motion to quash the subpoena may get you out of testifying.


You have a constitutional right against self-incrimination. The court cannot force you to answer questions that might implicate you in a crime.

For example, if the subpoena wants you to testify about an incident that you were part of that may be considered illegal, you cannot be forced to testify about your involvement.


You may not have to reveal confidential information about a client, patient, or spouse if you have the legal privilege. For example, if a subpoena requests medical records and testimony about what a patient said to you, you may avoid it if the patient has not permitted you to talk about that topic.

While the court may still order you to comply with the subpoena, you have options to avoid it to prevent yourself from violating professional ethics codes and obligations.

Scheduling Conflicts

Your interests may be in other personal or professional activities scheduled at the same date or time listed in the subpoena. You can contact the party who issued the subpoena or the judge and try to reschedule.

If they don’t cooperate, you may need to contact your attorney or seek the court’s assistance. Any communication about rescheduling should be documented in writing to protect yourself.

Can You Get Out of a Subpoena?

There are ways you can get out of a subpoena. The grounds for challenging a subpoena include three categories: (1) service issues; (2) jurisdictional issues; and (3) scope issues.

Service Issues

A federal subpoena must be served appropriately. However, many federal agencies have adopted rules that allow a party to validly serve a subpoena in nearly any way possible.

For example, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) allows the service of a subpoena by mail, in person, to an office or residence, by fax, or to legal counsel.

Judicial subpoenas for court hearings are generally more limited. For example, in most federal court jurisdictions, civil and criminal cases require in-person service of a subpoena. This is true in most state cases as well.

If your subpoena was not properly served, you may not have to appear for it.

Jurisdictional Issues

If a court does not have jurisdiction over the matter in the subpoena or the person named in the document, then the subpoena may also be invalid.

A jurisdictional issue may offer you temporary relief from testifying or presenting documents; however, it is not likely to completely get you out of a subpoena. The agency or party will not likely give up on obtaining the information.

Scope Issues

If there are substantive issues with the subpoena itself, then you may challenge the scope of the information being sought. You must make assertive grounds for challenging the scope of a subpoena, which may include the following:

  • Topic is overly broad
  • Insufficient details about information requested
  • Undue burden on person named
  • Privileged information

Moving to Quash or Modify the Subpoena

If you want to challenge a subpoena, your attorney must file a motion to quash or modify the subpoena. A motion to quash will attempt to get out of the testimony completely. Modifying the subpoena may allow you to protect your interests by restricting what you have to say and present at the hearing.

Ignoring a Subpoena Can Bring Serious Penalties

Do not ever completely ignore a subpoena. If you do not show up at the date and time listed on the subpoena, the court may issue an order to appear. If you fail to appear, the court may issue a contempt order. In federal cases, contempt of court is a criminal charge that can result in fines and jail time.

Contact an Attorney for Help Responding to a Subpoena

If you receive a subpoena, you should immediately contact a lawyer to help you decide what your best steps are going forward. We will listen to the details of your situation and confidentially give you legal advice about what you should do.

If you want to get out of testifying or presenting documents, we can help you file a motion to quash.

Call Harrison & Hart, LLC at (505) 295-3261 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.

What Happens at a Federal Detention Hearing?

You will face two immediate hearings before a judge if you have been charged with a federal crime. The first will be your arraignment, which involves the government reading official charges against you.

Then, if the U.S. Attorney wants you detained instead of released, a federal detention hearing will be scheduled to occur within three to five days. Reduce your anxiety about the federal detention hearing by knowing what to expect.

What to Expect at a Federal Detention Hearing

When you are initially arrested for a federal crime, you will be taken to jail. You must remain in jail until the U.S. Attorney agrees to your release or you challenge your incarceration at a federal detention hearing.

When Is the Federal Detention Hearing?

You are entitled to a federal detention hearing within three business days of your arraignment. That means if your arraignment occurs on a Monday or Tuesday, you could be out within the same week. However, if your arraignment is towards the end of a week, you may have to sit in jail over the weekend.

The Government Will Argue to Keep You in Jail

At the federal detention hearing, the government will argue that you should remain in custody until your case is resolved. They must present evidence that there is probable cause to believe you committed a federal crime. They must also show that if you were released, you would be a danger to the community or you are a flight risk.

Your Attorney Can Fight to Get You Released

Your federal defense lawyer has an opportunity to dispute those claims. Your best arguments at this juncture are that you are not dangerous and have no reason to leave the court’s jurisdiction.

The judge decides whether you can be released or held in custody until your trial.

Influencing Factors on the Outcome of Your Hearing

A federal judge considers many factors when deciding whether to keep you in jail or release you, including:

  • Your criminal history
  • The nature of your charges (e.g., if you are accused of being violent)
  • The weight of the evidence against you
  • The U.S. Attorney’s recommendation to detain or release you
  • Your character, health, and history
  • Ties to local family and the community
  • Your financial resources
  • Prior failure to appear in court
  • Whether you are a threat to the community
  • Your immigration status

These factors also determine the terms of your release if you can leave while your case is pending.

What Happens after a Federal Detention Hearing?

Upon completion of the federal defense hearing, you may be held pending trial or released on recognizance (ROR) with conditions of release.

You May Be Held in Jail Until Your Trial

You will not be released if the judge determines there are no conditions of release that will assure you will return to court proceedings or you pose a danger to society. You may be held without bail until your case is resolved.

You May Be Released

However, if the federal judge decides you are eligible for release, they may release you on personal recognizance. That means with the execution of an unsecured appearance bond. They may also release you to a third-party custodian, often a friend or family member responsible for you returning to court.

Conditions of your release might include:

  • You must report to a probation officer periodically and upon request
  • You must report any additional criminal activity (including traffic violations)
  • You must surrender your passport
  • You cannot leave the county, state, or court’s jurisdiction
  • You must attend school or work full time
  • You must consent to drug and alcohol testing
  • You must wear a tracking monitor

A Federal Defense Attorney Helps During Your Detention Hearing

If you have an approaching federal detention hearing, you must hire a lawyer who understands how to get you out of jail. The federal defense attorneys at Harrison & Hart, LLC have extensive experience representing clients at all stages of cases. We will attend your detention hearing with you and fight to get you released.

Call us today at (505) 295-3261 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.

The Right Firm For Your Case

We’re ready to help you get your life back on track.

From our office in Albuquerque, Harrison & Hart, LLC serves clients throughout New Mexico. We are focused on getting you the best outcome possible in the harshest of situations.

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