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Subpeona to witness for prosecution...can it be stopped?

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Junior Member
What is the name of your state? CA

My son was just subpeonied by the DA as a witness for the prosecution. He got this late Friday evening at our home while he was packing to leave for college on the following day. He is 18 now but was 17 when the incident occured (or so we think as no one has told us what the case is about). This case is against his friend (also 18). The only thing we can think of is when his friend was street racing and tried to run (on foot) from the cops when they showed up. He was arrested and his car impounded in April.

My son says he was not there and was only told about it afterwards. He never gave it another thought until the subpeona was served.


1) The subpeona has a place for the officer who delivered it to sign. Our copy is not signed by him. Does that matter?

2) Should someone have alread contacted my son to see if he even knows anything worthwile before serving a subpeona? I would hate to think he will have to come home from school, miss part of his second week there only to find out he has no information to offer and doesn't get called. It's a "command" to appear for 2 days.

3) Now, he is at a technical college which has a strict attendence policy. Being gone for 2 days in that cycle can cause him to fail that session. The school is 5 hours away from here. I just feel like if he has no information to offer, this is a huge risk to take. As a witness, it seems no one cares how it affects his life and future. He can't get a job until after the trial as well which is 2 weeks away yet. Rent will be due and so will utilities and we will have to pay gasoline (2.89 a gallon as of today), food as well as help him with rent and utilities (trade schools don't have dorms) as he won't be getting his first paycheck as planned. This all seems unfair when he is not the one who did anything. So...is there a way that once a subpeona is issued, it can be canceled? Can the get a phone call instead of in person? The DA has yet to return our calls but the clerk said it was unfortunate that he had moved out of the area but he is still required to appear.

4) Would the DA subpeona him as a prosecution witness unless he was sure my son would be of help to him? (between the lines...is my son lying about being there or knowing first hand information). It's still a mystery how his name came into this all. I thought someone would talk to him first and see if he was worth bringing to court against his friend.

Any thoughts are appreciated.


Senior Member
1. no. the copy the sheriff signs is the one that is filed with the court.

2. well someone gave your son's name to the police. your son may know more than what he is telling you.

3. have your son take a copy of the subpoena to school and tell the dean of admissions that he has to take time off to appear in court. I never heard of any college that will fail a student for missing 2 days of school. the other problems (job, rent, utilities) have nothing to do with him going to court to testify for less than one day.

4. see #2. Anyway, your son can always call the DA and find out what is going on. you and your son can also meet with your son's friend and attorney and find out what is really happening and why your son is a listed witness.


Senior Member
A subpoena is a Court Order to appear.

If he doesn't appear in court as commanded, the prosecutor could (almost certainly would) request that the Judge issue a Default Witness Body Attachment. That would allow the police to arrest and hold him, until such time as he can be brought before the issuing Judge to answer as to why he didn't appear as ordered.

The "I'm starting school" excuse will NOT be accepted.

Do not tell your son speak to the defendant's attorney. If he does and the prosecutor finds out about it, you'll be in trouble... possibly held in contempt.


Senior Member
Your son needs to appear in court. He can call the DA and ask him about the matter, but if he fails to show in court a warrant COULD issue for his arrest.

I once had to transport a witness from my county (in CA) to another county after a judge from the other county issued an arrest warrant for the witness. It DOES happen.

- Carl


Senior Member
"Do not tell your son speak to the defendant's attorney. If he does and the prosecutor finds out about it, you'll be in trouble... possibly held in contempt."

Where did you get that from? A witness can speak to either side on a case.

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