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In the context of a criminal case, a subpoena is a legal document issued by the court, or prosecuting attorney, ordering the recipient to appear at a certain time and place to testify under oath as a witness.
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Most often a criminal case begins with the arrest of an individual, or, in rare cases, when an individual is given a notice to appear in court. The Clerk of Courts assigns a unique alpha numerical identification marker to each arrest. The marker is commonly referred to as a “case number.”
The three main players in a criminal case are the prosecution, the defendant and the defense attorney.
The prosecution is the lawyer, or lawyers, representing the state and who is charged with resolving a criminal case. This happens primarily by one of two ways; either through a negotiated plea bargain, or by proving the defendant guilty of the charged crime to a judge or jury.
The defendant is the person accused of a crime.
The defense attorney is the lawyer who represents the defendant and will attempt to either negotiate a plea bargain or if the case goes to trial, the defense attorney will attempt to convince the judge or jury that the prosecution is unable to prove its case against the defendant.
A plea bargain, sometimes called a negotiated plea, is an agreement between the prosecutor and the defendant, most often brokered through the defendant’s attorney, whereby a defendant agrees to accept certain consequences resulting from the charges against them in exchange for some benefit.
The costs and benefits to each party that influence a plea bargain can vary widely.
Many variables can affect the duration of time from arrest to resolution of a criminal case. Any number of parties can cause delay, or in fact speed up the time needed to resolve a case. Each case is unique and a number of things can affect the duration of time a criminal case, including:
First, read the subpoena and all other related correspondence very carefully and follow all instructions. Before coming to court on the date of your subpoena it is critical that you call the phone number provided to confirm if, when and where you are to come to court.