Understanding Your Rights With A Federal Subpoena
A subpoena can be intimidating. It is important to understand your rights and responsibilities if you receive one. I am a former federal prosecutor. I founded the Law Offices of Peter Katz to defend clients accused of crimes or those needing a federal criminal defense attorney. With offices in New York and New Jersey, I represent clients throughout both states.
What Is A Subpoena?
A subpoena is a summons that orders you to appear at a court hearing of some kind. A federal subpoena will order you to appear before a grand jury or in court as a witness for a trial. While federal agents with any of the government agencies can try to ask you questions or invite you to their office to answer questions, you can choose not to do so, and there is nothing in the law that requires you to go. However, a subpoena is a court order and it must be followed or you will face consequences.
The Different Types Of Subpoenas
There are different types of federal subpoenas, all with different purposes. These include:
- A trial subpoena directing you to appear in court at a certain time to provide testimony in a criminal case.
- A grand jury subpoena requires you to appear at a secret grand jury proceeding.
- An administrative subpoena requests records or documents that might be relevant to a federal investigation.
If a subpoena is valid and does not violate your constitutional rights, you must comply with the subpoena.
Your Right To Remain Silent
It is important to remember that you have the right to remain silent. You can choose to refuse to meet with a federal agent at their office. If you choose to voluntarily meet with a federal investigator, anything you say or provide could ultimately be used as evidence against you.
Should You Retain An Attorney If You Receive A Subpoena?
While an attorney is not required if you receive a subpoena, an attorney can be incredibly helpful. An attorney can determine if the subpoena was issued legally and help you understand what your rights and responsibilities are with respect to what the government agency is asking. They can also help you prepare for your testimony. No matter what type of federal subpoena you’ve received, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you navigate whatever comes next.