Legal Updates

What is a Subpoena Duces Tecum?

The District Attorney has an obligation to provide discovery to the defense.  Specifically, the DA must hand over all documents material to guilt.  Sometimes, there are documents outside the state’s control.  One way to obtain these documents is through use of a Subpoena Duces Tecum (“SDT”)

An SDT is a court order for a witness to appear in court with certain documents.  The subpoena can be used to obtain documents from both public and private organizations.  It is a valuable and often underutilized tool. The SDT provides quick access to relevant information.  They can only be ignored at the peril of being held in contempt by the courts.

Defense attorneys regularly subpoena the following items:

  • police records and procedure manuals;
  • firearm records and summaries that trace the ownership of a firearm;
  • last known contact information for witnesses from police, schools, or other organizations;
  • disciplinary and mental health records of the complainant

If you have been arrested, and believe there are documents relevant to your defense, speak with a Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer about the possibility of a Subpoena Duces Tecum.  If you need a lawyer, call our Philadelphia Criminal Law Office at 267.535.9776.