Subpoena - Witness Information

What is a Subpoena?

A subpoena is a court order directing you to be present at the time and place stated on the subpoena. You may receive your subpoena by mail, electronically, or in person from a process server. Don’t ignore it.

What Should I Do After I Receive the Subpoena?

A deputy district attorney will handle the prosecution of the case for which you are subpoenaed. If you have any questions about the reason you have been subpoenaed to testify as a witness in a case, please (707) 253-4211 to contact the deputy district attorney listed on the subpoena. If you have a date conflict that cannot be changed, immediately notify the deputy district attorney listed in section 2C of the subpoena at (707) 253-4211 (between 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM, Monday-Friday). 

On the business day preceding the date you have been subpoenaed to appear, call the District Attorney's Office at 707-253-4282 after 5:00 PM to learn if the court date has been confirmed or cancelled. As an alternative, you can visit the Napa County Superior Court Web site after 5:00 PM on the preceding business day to search the Court Calendar information. Verifying this information may save you a trip to court if, at the last minute, the defendant pleads guilty or the case is continued.

It’s very important to keep the District Attorney’s Office informed of your current address, telephone number, and email address so you can be contacted about your case, including any changes in the appearance date or time. 

What Happens if the Case is Continued?

Many times, for many reasons, a case will be continued (postponed) to a later date. If that happens, every effort will be made to contact you and advise you that you do not need to appear in court on the date on your subpoena. The California Penal Code provides that when the proceedings have been continued, upon agreement, the District Attorney’s Office need not issue another subpoena. If you are contacted by someone from the District Attorney’s Office and advised that the date to appear has changed, you will be expected to appear at that new date and time. Again, the law does not require the District Attorney’s Office to send another subpoena, if that occurs. 

What You Should Know About Appearing in Court

  • Arrive on time (give yourself enough time for parking) on the date and location specified; bring your subpoena with you (most courtrooms do not allow children, so arrangements for childcare should be made in advance).
  • If you have any questions or problems, or if you are feeling anxious about testifying, please call the Victim-Witness Assistance Program at (707) 299-1414.
  • When you appear at the Courthouse, dress neatly (no shorts, tank tops, flip flops, hats), do not talk to the jurors, judge, or the defendant, do not eat or chew gum in the courtroom, be calm and polite, avoid body and facial expressions/gestures, and ask anyone accompanying you to follow the same conduct rules.
  • The deputy district attorney will tell you how long you will be expected to stay; you may be asked to wait in the hallway until it is your time to testify.

Witness and Subpoena FAQs