Get witnesses and documents to court.
Witnesses and documents can help you prove your case. The easiest way to get a witness to come to court is to ask them. If they are willing to come to court, you do not need a subpoena.
A subpoena is a court document that orders a person to appear in court and testify. You can also subpoena records.
How do I get a subpoena?
To have a subpoena issued, take these steps:
- Go to the court clerk’s office and get three copies of the form, Small Claims Subpoena for Personal Appearance and Production of Documents. The clerk will place a court seal on one of the copies. The other two will not have a court seal.
- Fill out all three copies exactly the same. If the subpoena requires documents to be brought to court, describe these documents in detail. For example, if you are requesting account information be sure to include the name on the account, the account number, and a specific time period.
Is there a filing fee?
No. There is no fee for a subpoena.
How do I serve the subpoena?
You can serve the subpoena yourself or have someone else serve it for you. Although any person can serve a subpoena, it is best to have it served by someone 18 or older.
Serve one of the copies without the court seal to the witness at least 10 days before your court date.
The original subpoena with the court seal and completed Proof of Service should be returned to the clerk at least five days before the court date. You keep one copy for your records.
When do I get the documents?
The documents will be sent directly to the court. You will get to see the subpoenaed documents at the trial.
Do I have to pay witnesses?
Only if they request payment. You do not have to offer payment. If a witness asks for fees and they are not paid before the court hearing, the witness does not have to come to court.
The fee for a regular witness is $35.00 per day and 20¢ per mile to and from the court. Witness fees for police officers and certain public officials are higher. Check with the agency directly for the cost.
If the witness requests a fee, you can pay the fee yourself, or have the person who serves the subpoena pay them. At the hearing, you can ask the Judge to add the witness fees to your judgment.
Can a witness send a written statement instead of coming to court?
Some courts will accept a written statement instead of an appearance by a witness.
Contact the court to find out if written statements (declarations) are accepted. If they are, ask the witness to write down what they saw or what they know.
Written statements must end with:
- The words: “I declare under penalty of perjury, under the laws of the State of California, that the foregoing is true and correct.”
- The name, address and telephone number of the witness.
- The date the statement was signed.
- The signature of the witness.
How do I subpoena records from a government agency?
If you are subpoenaing records from a government agency different rules may apply. Contact the government agency directly to learn their procedures. You may be charged a fee.
How do I subpoena personal records from a third party?
There is a different procedure for obtaining records on a party to the case through another person or business. Please contact the Small Claims Advisor Service for details on how to subpoena these records.
Court forms are available at California Courts – Forms. Select “Small Claims” from the pull down menu. Forms are also available at the Court Clerk’s office.
County of Los Angeles Department of Consumer and Business Affairs. Last change: May 19, 2015