Sometimes, great evidence supporting your case theory exists outside of the immediate facts of the criminal charges. What more can we know about the parties involved? The Subpoena Duces Tecum is a creative and effective tool toward obtaining that important outside collateral evidence.
What is a Subpoena Duces Tecum?
A Subpoena Duces Tecum is a court summons ordering the recipient to appear before the court and either (1) testify, and/or (2) produce documents or other tangible evidence for use at a hearing or trial. Practically speaking, the Subpoena Duces Tecum instructs the witness to bring in hand books, papers, or evidence for the court. It’s a very helpful trial tactic to implement for cases where the defense wants to support their own defense or hurt the credibility of adverse witnesses.
How and Why Would You Seek a Subpoena Duces Tecum?
For example, if someone were charged with Assault, it would be wise to know whether the “victim” had serious mental health issues, disciplinary problems and/or a history of violent behavior. In this case, a defense attorney would seek the testimony from witnesses – say, a school teacher or former employer – who would state the victim had a history of violent outbursts and/or instigated violent confrontations with others. In other cases involving a Diminished Capacity Defense, a Subpoena Duces tecum might help obtain the cooperation of mental health experts/counselors who have treated the defendant in the past. Basically, the testimony of any person outside the facts of the case who is relevant to establishing a defense to the charges is a good candidate to issue a Subpoena Duces Tecum. Defense attorneys can become very creative in establishing why this outside information relates to the criminal charges.
What is the Legal Authority Supporting a Subpoena Duces Tecum?
Local court rules, the Washington State Constitution and the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution require the government to promptly disclose any evidence favorable to the defendant. When it comes to wanting the testimony of witnesses and/or victims, the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution states that “in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to be confronted with the witnesses against him.” Also, the Washington States Constitution states the accused shall have the right to meet the witnesses against him face to face. The purpose of such confrontation is to test the perception, memory and credibility of witnesses. In this case, a Subpoena Duces Tecum may order any witnesses to make themselves available for interviews and pretrial hearings under threat of being held in contempt of court. Consult an experienced and effective defense attorney on the issues of your case. Chances are, there is outside collateral evidence which might be obtainable with the help of a Subpoena Duces Tecum. Good luck!