Posted on December 29, 2019
Subpoena Service Can Be Done Via E-Mail So Long As Service is Acknowledged
California Senate Bill 471 became effective January 1, 2020 amending Penal Code 1328d allowing service of a subpoena via electronic service (e-mail) so long as the recipient acknowledges receipt of the subpoena.
Prior law required that all subpoenas be personally served upon a witness in order for the Court to issue an order to show cause and find a witness in contempt. Since California is moving towards electronic filings and e-mail is a greater form of direct communication, the legislature broadened the scope of service.
PC 1328d was amended to read in pertinent part that a subpoena may be delivered by mail, messenger, electronic mail, or facsimile transmission. A subpoena issued and acknowledged has the same force and effect as a subpoena personally served. Failure to comply with a subpoena may be punished for contempt. However, a warrant or body attachment may not be issued based upon a failure to appear.
This law, however, is limited to service of civilian witnesses and not law enforcement personnel. Accordingly, subpoenas served on police officers must comply with existing law.
In the event a witness fails to appear, the party who issued the subpoena may request a continuance, but must prove compliance with service. Additionally, a continuance shall only be for the time which would allow personal service and not longer than that allowed by law.
 See Penal Code 1328(c).