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Your Rights and Protections With Federal Subpoenas

March 21, 2024

 

Your Rights and Protections With Federal Subpoenas

Getting a subpoena can be scary. You may worry you did something wrong or that your personal information is at risk. But there are laws to protect you, and you have rights. This article will explain what subpoenas are, when you might get one, and what you can do about it. We’ll use simple language so it’s easy to understand.

What is a subpoena?

A subpoena is a legal order for you to provide documents, information, or testimony. There are two main types of federal subpoenas:

  • A subpoena for documents or information – this orders you to provide things like emails, financial records, or other documents
  • A subpoena to testify – this orders you to testify as a witness in a court case or investigation

Subpoenas are issued by federal courts and government agencies like the FBI or SEC. They can also come from private parties (like companies) involved in lawsuits.

Why did I get a subpoena?

There are many reasons you might get a subpoena. Here are some examples:

  • You witnessed something relevant to a court case or investigation
  • You have documents or information that could be evidence
  • You’re involved in a lawsuit, even just peripherally
  • Someone is fishing for information by subpoenaing many people

Getting a subpoena does not mean you’re in trouble or did something wrong. It just means someone thinks you may have relevant information.

What are my rights and protections?

The law protects you from improper subpoenas. Your main rights include:

Christine Twomey
Christine Twomey
2024-03-21
Just had my Divorce case settled 2 months ago after having a horrible experience with another firm. I couldn’t be happier with Claire Banks and Elizabeth Garvey with their outstanding professionalism in doing so with Spodek Law Group. Any time I needed questions answered they were always prompt in doing so with all my uncertainties after 30 yrs of marriage.I feel from the bottom of my heart you will NOT be disappointed with either one. Thanks a million.
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 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙌🏼❤️
Keisha Parris
Keisha Parris
2024-03-15
Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
Taïko Beauty
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
Anthony Williams
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.
Loveth Okpedo
Loveth Okpedo
2024-03-12
Very professional, very transparent, over all a great experience
Bee L
Bee L
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.
divesh patel
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.
  • Right to object – You can object to the subpoena if you think it’s inappropriate, overly broad, vague, or burdensome
  • Right to privacy – Subpoenas for personal information must be approved by a judge first [2]
  • Right against undue burden – You can fight subpoenas that would cause undue burden or expense [6]

In other words, you don’t have to just comply without question. The court provides protections.

What are the rules and limits on subpoenas?

Subpoenas must follow strict rules to be valid and enforceable. Some key limitations include:

  • Geographic limits – For documents, generally limited to within 100 miles [5]
  • Substance limits – Must be specific and relevant to the case
  • Service requirements – Strict rules for how you are served [4]
  • Deadlines – You get reasonable time to comply, like 14+ days

If a subpoena doesn’t follow the rules, you can get it thrown out. This prevents fishing expeditions and abuse of power.

What should I do if I get a subpoena?

Don’t panic! Here are some tips if you receive a subpoena:

  • Read it carefully – Make sure you understand what is being asked
  • Check the deadline – Note how much time you have to respond
  • Get legal help – Consider hiring a lawyer to protect your rights
  • Negotiate – See if a compromise on scope or deadlines is possible
  • Object – File a motion to quash if the subpoena is improper [1]
  • Comply as required – If valid, follow the subpoena’s orders within the deadline

With good legal help, you can ensure the subpoena is fair and doesn’t violate your rights.

What happens if I don’t comply?

If you don’t comply with a valid subpoena, the court can hold you in contempt. This could result in fines or even jail time in extreme cases. However, courts don’t take this step lightly. They want to avoid unduly punishing people for exercising their rights. Some key points:

  • Get a lawyer – With legal help, you can often negotiate or fight improper subpoenas
  • Explain reasons – Courts may be sympathetic to legitimate personal issues
  • Argue undue burden – Fight subpoenas that are unreasonable or excessively burdensome
  • Request modifications – Ask for changes to scope or deadlines if needed

In many cases, good faith efforts to work through disputes over subpoenas can avoid punitive measures.

Key Takeaways

Dealing with a subpoena can be confusing, but your rights are protected. Remember:

  • Subpoenas have limits – improper ones can be fought
  • You have specific rights, like privacy and against undue burden
  • Get a lawyer to help negotiate or object to inappropriate subpoenas
  • Courts want to avoid punishing people unnecessarily for fighting subpoenas

With a basic understanding of your rights, you can deal with subpoenas confidently. It may seem scary at first, but you have power too!

 

References

[1] Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 45

[2] Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure Rule 17

[3] Judiciary Subpoena Regulations

[4] Rule 45 Subpoena Defense Strategies

[5] Federal Subpoena Form AO 88B

[6] Tips for Representing Non-Party Served with Subpoena

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