24/7 call for a free consultation 212-300-5196




When you’re facing a federal issue, you need an attorney whose going to be available 24/7 to help you get the results and outcome you need. The value of working with the Spodek Law Group is that we treat each and every client like a member of our family.

Responding to Federal Subpoenas Without Destroying Evidence

Responding to Federal Subpoenas Without Destroying Evidence

Receiving a federal subpoena can be an intimidating and stressful experience. As an individual or business, you have legal responsibilities when it comes to properly preserving and producing documents requested in a subpoena. Failure to comply could potentially lead to charges of obstruction of justice or contempt of court. This article provides practical guidance on how to lawfully respond to federal subpoenas without inadvertently destroying evidence.

Understanding Federal Subpoenas

A federal subpoena is a writ or order issued by a federal court demanding that an individual or organization produce documents, give testimony, or both. Subpoenas are used by federal agencies like the FBI, SEC, IRS, and Department of Justice during investigations.There are two main types of federal subpoenas:

  • Grand Jury Subpoena: Requires producing documents or testifying before a grand jury about a potential crime. Grand juries determine if there is probable cause to issue an indictment.
  • Trial Subpoena: Requires producing documents or testifying at a trial about a charged crime. This helps the prosecution or defense make their case.

Once a federal subpoena is issued and properly served to an individual or business, it legally compels compliance. Ignoring or avoiding it can lead to civil or criminal contempt charges.

Document Preservation is Crucial

When you receive a federal subpoena, you must take immediate action to preserve relevant documents and prevent any data destruction. Under federal law like Sarbanes-Oxley, it is illegal to knowingly destroy potential evidence or hide it from investigators.Begin by issuing a legal hold to suspend all normal document destruction policies in your organization. This preserves the status quo and prevents any automatic deletion of emails, texts, files, etc that might be relevant to the federal investigation.You should also immediately gather, secure, and monitor all relevant data sources including:

  • Email and instant message archives
  • Network file shares and collaboration platforms
  • Mobile devices like company-issues smartphones and tablets
  • Cloud storage like Dropbox or Box accounts
  • Local hard drives of computers, laptops and servers
  • Social media pages and activity
  • Physical records such as paper documents or photographs

Software and consultants can assist with properly imaging this data for legal hold and backup purposes.

Responding to Requests

Your next step is to appoint a response team to handle collection and review of subpoenaed materials. This helps ensure an efficient, compliant, and legally privileged process. The team should include legal counsel, IT/forensics, and key records custodians.Counsel will evaluate scope and obligations, then negotiate with investigators about production deadlines, formats, etc if anything is unclear or unreasonable. Technical staff will use forensic software to pull responsive data from various sources, while records custodians help provide context around certain documents and communications.The team will also conduct a responsiveness review to identify which materials actually fit within the parameters of the federal subpoena and must be turned over. Other non-relevant documents can be excluded from production.

Avoiding Data Destruction

Throughout the collection and review process, the response team must remain extremely careful not to alter or destroy any potential evidence.Actions to avoid:

Christine Twomey
Christine Twomey
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
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
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
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
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
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
Very professional, very transparent, over all a great experience
Bee L
Bee L
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
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.
  • Deleting, overwriting or shredding physical or digital files
  • Re-imaging, wiping, or disposing of devices
  • Hiding, encrypting or password protecting data
  • Disabling system logging or auditing capabilities
  • Withholding, omitting or concealing responsive materials

The law prohibits destroying or concealing any documents reasonably anticipated to be relevant to a federal investigation, even if they seem innocuous or mundane. Records custodians should err on the side of retention if they are unsure whether a document is responsive or not.

Producing Documents

Once the response team has identified all relevant materials for production, they should be compiled into a logically organized format for federal investigators.Some best practices around production include:

  • Labeling and indexing – Include spreadsheet with description, source, and beginning bates number for each document
  • Bates stamping – Number each page sequentially for easy reference
  • Format – Provide data in native format if possible, with metadata intact
  • Delivery – Use secure FTP site or encrypted physical media to transmit documents

The produced records should contain all requested materials without any gaps, omissions or obfuscations. Certify that a complete and accurate production has been made in order to avoid accusations of hiding or destroying evidence.Keep a copy of the production for reference in case any further actions or supplemental requests are made. Notify counsel immediately if any additional relevant materials are located after production.

Seeking Legal Advice

Responding to federal subpoenas is a complex process with serious legal implications if mishandled. Engaging an experienced attorney is highly recommended when your organization receives a subpoena demanding documents or testimony.Counsel can help to:

  • Assess scope and obligations
  • Issue legal holds to preserve data
  • Negotiate deadlines and production terms
  • Lead response team to ensure defensible process
  • Assert privileges and protect sensitive information
  • Avoid non-compliance penalties through timely complete production


Federal subpoenas should never be ignored, but must be navigated carefully to avoid allegations of evidence spoliation or obstruction of justice. Suspending data destruction, collecting relevant materials, and seeking legal advice allows individuals and companies to comply fully while also protecting their rights and interests during a federal investigation.


Schedule Your Consultation Now