Legal terms can often be confusing and hard to interpret. One thing to understand is that there are many different kinds of court orders but only one kind of subpoena. A subpoena is always a court order, but a court order is not always a subpoena. If you've been given a subpoena, there are a few things to keep in mind and do before you show up in court.
A subpoena is a type of legal document court order, or writ. An "appearance only" subpoena requires you to appear in court and testify as a witness. The subpoena will also tell you exactly what time and place you will be needed to testify. A "records only" subpoena requires you to bring specific records, documents and/or materials to court with you. In these cases, you will not have to testify in court but only provide the needed materials. And an "appearance and records" subpoena requires you to both testify as a witness and produce the necessary documents requested by the court.
What To Do If You're Subpoenaed
The first thing you should do is call the lawyer who requested that you be subpoenaed. The lawyer will then tell you exactly what they want from you -- whether just for you to testify, or if they need records and/or documents you may have. You should then call your personal lawyer for further advice on testifying or gathering materials for court. If you've been improperly served a subpoena, your lawyer can file a "motion to quash," or remove the subpoena against you. If your testimony/documents are necessary, you should then call your employer and explain that you have been subpoenaed and will likely be missing at least one day of work.
A court order is a legal document issued by a court of law or judicial officer. The term court order can be used to describe the legal command made by a judge to order someone, or a party, to do something or to refrain from doing something. For example, a subpoena is a court order demanding someone to come to court and testify or offer requested documents. Whereas a gag order is a court order demanding those involved in a court case from talking about it with others not involved in the case.
Similar Court Orders
Along with subpoenas, there area other court orders that can be a bit confusing. A search warrant is a court order allowing police officers to enter your home or property and seize any items from the property. A court summons, or criminal summons, is also very similar to a subpoena. But unlike a subpoena, a court summons is sent to a defendant to inform him that court proceedings are to begin and he must be there or face criminal penalties.