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Civil Investigative Demand – Federal Lawyers

Navigating Civil Investigative Demands (CIDs) as a Federal Target

Receiving a civil investigative demand (CID) from a federal agency like the Department of Justice or Federal Trade Commission can be an intimidating and stressful experience. As a federal defense lawyer who regularly advises clients facing CIDs, I wanted to provide an overview of what CIDs are, what rights you have, and key steps to take if you find yourself in this situation.

What is a Civil Investigative Demand (CID)?

A CID is essentially an administrative subpoena that allows federal agencies to obtain documents and information from companies or individuals even before any formal charges or litigation. CIDs enable federal agencies like the DOJ and FTC to conduct wide-ranging investigations into potential violations of federal laws.While CIDs do not necessarily mean you will be criminally charged, they should be taken very seriously. The scope of these demands can be extraordinarily broad, requiring the production of extensive records, written responses under oath, and even oral testimony.

Key Grounds for Challenging CIDs

The ability to challenge CIDs in court is limited, but possible grounds include:

  • The demand creates an unreasonable burden given its scope
  • The demand seeks irrelevant information
  • The information requested is already in the agency’s possession
  • There is abuse of process by the investigating agency

Responding to CIDs: Critical First Steps

Upon receiving a federal CID, key initial steps should include:

  1. Instituting a legal hold on all potentially relevant electronic and hard copy records. Failing to preserve documents can be treated as spoliation (destruction) of evidence.
  2. Seeking experienced legal counsel with specific experience handling federal investigations and CIDs. An experienced attorney can engage with the issuing agency to clarify scope and potentially narrow the demand.
  3. Assessing your posture in the investigation – are you being treated as a witness, subject or target? This helps determine legal strategy.
  4. Avoiding obstruction by responding in good faith and on time. However, you should not produce documents or agree to interviews without counsel present.

Working with Experienced Federal Defense Counsel

Facing a federal civil investigative demand is challenging even for sophisticated companies and individuals. Attempting to respond without experienced legal counsel is exceptionally risky. Retaining federal defense lawyers with specific expertise regarding the agency and subject matter at issue is highly advisable.At [Firm Name], our attorneys include former federal prosecutors who have handled CID demands from both sides. We have successfully resolved the majority of our clients’ federal investigations without civil or criminal charges. If your business or you personally have received a federal CID, please contact our team for a free case assessment.


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