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Asserting Constitutional Rights During FTC Probes

Asserting Constitutional Rights During FTC Probes

Dealing with an FTC investigation can be intimidating. Many companies and individuals aren’t aware of their constitutional rights when faced with an FTC subpoena or civil investigative demand (CID). However, you have important due process rights that can protect you during an FTC probe.

Overview of FTC Investigative Powers

The FTC has broad authority to investigate potentially unfair or deceptive trade practices under Section 5 of the FTC Act. This includes the power to issue subpoenas and CIDs to obtain testimony and documents [4]. While companies must comply or face possible enforcement action, individuals have certain constitutional rights they can assert.

Fifth Amendment Right Against Self-Incrimination

The Fifth Amendment protects against self-incrimination in criminal cases. In Axon v. FTC, the Supreme Court recently held that this privilege does not apply broadly to FTC probes [5]. However, if you reasonably fear your statements could expose you to criminal liability, you may still invoke your Fifth Amendment right in response to specific questions. Just refusing to testify or produce documents entirely may not be protected.

How to Assert the Fifth Amendment

  • Express your intent to assert the privilege clearly
  • Assert it on a question-by-question basis
  • Explain your basis for fearing criminal prosecution

Blanket assertions of the Fifth Amendment right may not be upheld. You must tailor your response to the specific risk presented by each question or request. An experienced attorney can help you navigate this process effectively.

Fourth Amendment Protection Against Unreasonable Searches

The Fourth Amendment limits the government’s power to conduct unreasonable searches and seizures. While the FTC has authority to subpoena documents and data, the Fourth Amendment provides some protections:

  • Subpoenas cannot be overly broad or burdensome
  • FTC must have a reasonable basis for requests
  • You may negotiate limits or object to overbroad aspects

If you believe a subpoena or CID exceeds the FTC’s authority or imposes an undue burden, you can petition to limit or quash it. This is complex, so consult an attorney experienced with FTC probes.

Due Process Rights

The Fifth Amendment also guarantees due process rights, like fair notice and a hearing. For example, in Axon, the company argued the FTC administrative process denied due process by combining prosecutorial and adjudicative roles [5]. While Axon lost, due process arguments may succeed in limiting overreach in FTC proceedings.

Christine Twomey
Christine Twomey
2024-03-21
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Brendan huisman
Brendan huisman
2024-03-18
Alex Zhik contacted me almost immediately when I reached out to Spodek for a consultation and was able to effectively communicate the path forward/consequences of my legal issue. I immediately agreed to hire Alex for his services and did not regret my choice. He was able to cover my case in court (with 1 day notice) and not only was he able to push my case down, he carefully negotiated a dismissal of the charge altogether. I highly recommend Spodek, and more specifically, Alex Zhik for all of your legal issues. Thanks guys!
Guerline Menard
Guerline Menard
2024-03-18
Thanks again Spodek law firm, particularly Esq Claire Banks who stood right there with us up to the finish line. Attached photos taken right outside of the court building and the smile on our faces represented victory, a breath of fresh air and satisfaction. We are very happy that this is over and we can move on with our lives. Thanks Spodek law 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙌🏼❤️
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Keisha Parris
2024-03-15
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Taïko Beauty
2024-03-15
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence. Thank you team!
Anthony Williams
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2024-03-12
Hey, how you guys doing? Good afternoon my name is Anthony Williams I just want to give a great shout out to the team of. Spodek law group. It is such a honor to use them and to use their assistance through this whole case from start to finish. They did everything that they said they was gonna do and if it ever comes down to it, if I ever have to use them again, hands-down they will be the first law office at the top of my list, thank you guys so much. It was a pleasure having you guys by my side so if you guys ever need them, do not hesitate to pick up the phone and give them a call.
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2024-03-12
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2024-02-28
Amazing experience with Spodek! Very professional lawyers who take your case seriously. They treated me with respect, were always available, and answered any and all questions. They were able to help me very successfully and removed a huge stress. Highly recommend.
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divesh patel
2024-02-24
I can't recommend Alex Zhik and Spodek Law Firm highly enough for their exceptional legal representation and personal mentorship. From the moment I engaged their services in October 2022, Alex took the time to understand my case thoroughly and provided guidance every step of the way. Alex's dedication to my case went above and beyond my expectations. His expertise, attention to detail, and commitment to achieving the best possible outcome were evident throughout the entire process. He took the time to mentor me, ensuring I understood the legal complexities involved to make informed decisions. Alex is the kind of guy you would want to have a beer with and has made a meaningful impact on me. I also want to acknowledge Todd Spodek, the leader of the firm, who played a crucial role in my case. His leadership and support bolstered the efforts of Alex, and his involvement highlighted the firm's commitment to excellence. Thanks to Alex Zhik and Todd Spodek, I achieved the outcome I desired, and I am incredibly grateful for their professionalism, expertise, and genuine care. If you're in need of legal representation, look no further than this outstanding team.

Potential Due Process Arguments

  • Right to fair notice of charges/allegations
  • Right to impartial adjudication
  • Right to present evidence and confront accusers

Due process rights depend on the stage and nature of proceedings. If you believe the FTC is violating due process, an experienced constitutional lawyer can advise you on objections.

Getting Legal Help

Navigating an FTC probe while protecting your constitutional rights is extremely complex. Do not go it alone. Consult an attorney experienced with FTC investigations to advise you on:

  • Responding to subpoenas and CIDs
  • Asserting privileges and protections
  • Negotiating reasonable limits on requests
  • Petitioning to quash overbroad demands
  • Raising due process and other arguments

With skilled legal help asserting your rights, you can increase your chances of a fair and reasonable process.

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