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When prosecutors or law enforcement issue you a records subpoena, consult a lawyer

Dec 13, 2013 When prosecutors or law enforcement issue you a records subpoena, consult a lawyer

When police, law enforcement, or a government agency issue you a subpoena for documents or other tangible evidence, it is wisest to consult with a qualified lawyer well in advance of the subpoena’s evidence production deadline. A qualified lawyer will help determine whether you are a target of the government’s investigation, and whether to file a motion to quash the subpoena if you are a target. If you are not a target of an investigation, a lawyer can advise you whether to seek for the government or court to clarify, narrow or limit the scope of the subpoena; to seek to extend the timeframe for providing the subpoenaed documents; and to move to quash or limit the subpoena in case provided documents will compromise your Fifth Amendment rights to remain silent, your customers’ rights to privacy, proprietary rights, and other rights  The lawyer also can advise you on the best method to sufficiently comply with the subpoena so as not to face court sanctions for an insufficient subpoena reply, and can review the documents you assemble for replying to the subpoena.

Sadly, the Fourth Circuit today confirmed that the Fifth Amendment does not save one from responding to a subpoena to a government investigation target, where the subpoena is issued pursuant to a recordkeeping statute –for instance the statute requiring recordkeeping on overseas bank accounts — that is primarily regulatory, even if a criminal component is a part of the statute. U.S. v. Under Seal, _ F.3d __ (4th Cir., Dec. 13, 2013) Certainly, though, the Fifth Amendment right against being compelled to be a witness against oneself should be a good defense against any other record or objects that are subpoenaed against a criminal investigation target, including a subpoena of the computer of a person who is a target of a child pornography investigation.

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