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Ways to Protect Yourself After Receiving a Federal Grand Jury Subpoena

By Spodek Law Group | June 23, 2023
(Last Updated On: July 28, 2023)

Last Updated on: 28th July 2023, 07:23 pm

The Moment You Get a Federal Grand Jury Subpoena

Let me paint you a picture. Imagine you’ve just been served with a federal grand jury subpoena. You might be feeling a wave of panic. But, don’t fret – just because you’ve received a subpoena doesn’t mean disaster is inevitable. You see, the language of the law unfolds like a great and intricate story, where us attorneys are the narrators, and our choices write the ending.

Strategy Matters in Every Chapter

My name’s Todd Spodek, and at the Spodek Law Group, we think that in the grand drama of a federal investigation, knowledge is power. And your first move should be to get as much of it as possible. You see, while a subpoena might have you feeling like a fish on a hook, the fact that you’re on the line doesn’t mean you can’t still control the reel.

A Little Chat Can Go a Long Way

Now making contact with the U.S. Attorney’s Office might sound intimidating, but understand, that it’s all part of the game. And who knows the game better than a defense attorney? No one, and that’s why they should be the ones speaking on your behalf.

When they talk with the U.S. Attorney’s office, your defense lawyer can dig around, getting answers to like whether you’re a target or just a witness. And they can get a grip on the specifics of the investigation, or potentially negotiate the scope of the subpoena.

Believe it or not, in many cases, a simple conversation with the U.S. Attorney’s Office can take a lot of weight off your shoulders, and even give you a head start on strategizing your defense.

Filing a Motion to Quash

If your attorney senses that some of the requests from the subpoena are out of order, they might recommend filing a motion to quash. Essentially, it’s an attempt to get the subpoena withdrawn or significantly altered. Now, I won’t sugar coat it. It’s unlikely that a judge would completely quash the subpoena, but motions aimed at reducing the scope of the subpoena often find more sympathy.

Possible grounds for filing a motion to quash could stem from issues like procedural deficiencies, overly-broad or burdensome requests, or even vague and indefinite requests.

Building a Solid Response

Simultaneously, your defense attorney would be meticulously preparing your response, because let’s be real, there’s a strong chance that some form of testimony or document production will be required. Take note though that inadequate responses could potentially lead to contempt charges, so hiring an experienced attorney is crucial in making sure that your response is up to scratch.

The Power of Privilege

In the thick of it all, your attorney would constantly be keeping in mind the attorney-client privilege. Any communication between you and your attorney are confidential. Therefore, the info you share with your attorney, and the activities undertaken from it, would be shielded from the subpoena. This privilege also protects documents prepared by or in concurrence with your attorney and any other records related to the attorney-client relationship.

Should I Play the Fifth?

You’ve probably heard this in movies – “I plead the fifth”. This is the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. But, before you start playing out your Law & Order fantasy, remember, the privilege only applies to individuals and not to business entities. Also, it doesn’t apply to individuals subpoenaed in their capacity as the custodian of a business entity’s records.

Taking your Shots at the Indictment

In the unfortunate circumstance that an indictment is returned, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re headed for a trial or have to bend to a plea deal. Your counsel could file a motion to dismiss the indictment based on various grounds, such as bias and prejudice of the grand jury, excessive reliance on hearsay, failure to disclose false statements, failure to present exculpatory evidence, and prejudicial publicity.

Navigating these waters can seem rough, but remember, every story can have multiple endings. Your choice of lawyer can set the course of your story, and at Spodek Law Group, we always aim for a happy ending.

Reading Between the Lines

When you’re served with a grand jury subpoena, it can feel like the other side has the home-field advantage. They know the field, they know the play, and from where you’re standing, it might look like they’re holding all the cards. But you’re not empty-handed. You have got power in knowledge and strategy, my friend.

Talking it Out

First off, it’s crucial to confer with the U.S. Attorney’s Office. They might not tell you everything, but they have to let you know enough information to play your part in the proceedings. They should disclose whether you’re a target, a subject, or a witness of their investigation. They also ought to detail the particular accusations behind the subpoena.

Now, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, they’re not yammering away to just anybody, but your defense attorney can get the skinny. They lean into all those rules and regulations, filter out the fluff, and ferret out critical insights to set the course of your game.

Shaking Things Up

The next step may jerk us into a darker alley, but your defense attorney knows the lanes here too. If straight-up dialogue with the U.S. Attorney’s office doesn’t prove fruitful, we’ll think about filing a motion to quash with the federal district court. Long shot? Yes. But here’s the kicker – even if we cannot quash the subpoena entirely, we might be able to whittle it down to a more manageable size by limiting its scope.

Answering with Care

As the scene unfolds, your attorney will also be strategizing your response. It’s a lot of work, a lot of thought, and a lot of time. But that’s what defense attorneys do – figure out how to stand up under a grand jury subpoena. Fumble the response, and you’re in line for contempt charges, come out strong, and you can hold your ground.

Valuing Secrets

Here’s something crucial to never forget – document production and testimony prep both need to account for attorney-client privilege. Anything you say when you’re huddled with the defense, any document related to your defense, they’re protected secrets. They are cards you hold close to your chest, safe from the U.S. Attorney’s prying gaze.

When Silence Speaks Volumes

Right about here, you might be rolling the dice on the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. On a personal level, that’s your call. But remember, businesses and custodians of business records don’t get that card. And true, it won’t cover the content of documents, but handing over certain documents might be an admission in itself.

Going for the Goal Post

Faced with an indictment, you may feel like you’re backed into a corner between a plea deal or a trial. But the play isn’t quite over yet. You can file a motion to dismiss the indictment. Prove the jury to be biased, expose an excessive reliance on hearsay, reveal a yawning gap of exculpatory evidence or tie the proceedings to some prejudicial publicity, and you might end up sending that indictment straight to the shredder.

In the end, the path forward might not look straight or smooth. But with knowledge as your compass and a sharp defense attorney on your side, you might just find that you’ve got more control over your game than you initially thought.

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