Subpoena Service Can Be Done Via E-Mail So Long As Service is Acknowledged

December 29, 2019

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.[1] 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.

If you have been arrested or charged with a crime, then contact the Law Offices of John D. Rogers to schedule a confidential consultation with an experienced Newport Beach criminal defense attorney.



[1] See Penal Code 1328(c).

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