a customer is filling out a subpoena

Subpoenas

Get witnesses and documents to court.

Subpoenas


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 written records that you get to see on the day of your court hearing. 

How do I get a subpoena?

To have a subpoena issued, take these steps:

  1. Go to the court clerk’s office and get three copies of the form, SC-107 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. If the court only provides one copy with a seal on it fill it out completely and make two copies. One copy serve to the intended party and keep the other copy for yourself.  Be sure and return the original one with the seal stamped on it to the court that issued the Subpoena. 
  2. 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. Be sure it gets sent to the Custodian of Record (the person who has control of the records) or who processes subpoenas for the business or organization.  

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. However, we recommend that you pay the witness either by check or money order. A witness can say they asked for payment of the fees but they were not paid prior to the hearing.  In which case 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. This will most often be submitted on an MC-030 Declaration form which is signed under penalty of perjury.

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: August 18, 2020.

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