Subpoena Vs. Warrant

Written by demetrius sewell | 13/05/2017
Subpoena Vs. Warrant
You can be arrested if you don't comply with a subpoena. (Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

A warrant and subpoena have some similarities. For instance, they are legal documents involving legally ordering a person to comply with a court order. The documents, however, aren't used in that same way. For instance a type of warrant called a "search warrant" allows a law enforcement officer to search you and/or your premises. Nevertheless, the search is based on probable cause that you may be in possession of evidence involved in a crime.


A warrant and subpoena involve court proceedings. A subpoena, for example, involves a court officer such as a magistrate, judge or clerk of court ordering an individual to appear in court. Typically, the subpoena, or order, requires a person to testify in a court hearing or produce documents on a certain day of trial.


A warrant, however, differs from a subpoena, because it doesn't require an individual to appear in court to testify. Instead a warrant consists of a court official authorising a law enforcement officer to arrest and bring an individual to court to appear before a judge. Unlike a subpoena, a warrant indicates that you may have committed a crime.


Subpoenas are of two types. A general subpoena requires a person to testify in court. A subpoena duces tecum, however, requires an individual bring requested items to court in addition to testifying in court. For instance, if you receive a subpoena duces tecum for a contract in your possession, you must comply and hand over the document to the court.

A warrant comprises three types: search warrant, warrant and bench warrant. Generally, a warrant is issued when a person is charged with a crime. If you don't show up to court for sentencing --- after being convicted of a crime --- or owe money such as a fine, a judge may issue a warrant. Another type of warrant involves a bench warrant. A bench warrant is a court order permitting an individual's arrest for failing to appear in court. For instance, if you receive a subpoena to testify in court but fail to appear, a judge can issue a bench warrant for your arrest. The difference between a warrant and a bench warrant entails a judge issuing the warrant during court proceedings.


Another difference between a subpoena and a warrant involves compensation. A person subpoenaed to testify in a trial who lives a minimum distance from the lawsuit can receive compensation for travel expenses. For instance, if you live in Detroit, but receive a subpoena to testify in Ohio, you may receive money to cover your travel expenses.

By using the site, you consent to the use of cookies. For more information, please see our Cookie policy.