Subpoenaed by the Government? Take These 4 Steps Immediately!

In general, a subpoena operates like a court order that either requires you to appear in court or a Grand Jury to testify or a directive ordering you to produce documents about a certain matter. Although receiving a subpoena from the government can be surprising, and sometimes worrisome, it’s important that you don’t panic or do something rash, such as deleting the documents inquired about in the subpoena, because doing so could lead to criminal charges. Figuring out what to do after receiving a subpoena can be overwhelming, so we’re here to help break it down for you into a few simple steps. Read ahead for what you should do immediately after receiving a subpoena from the court.

1.   Determine the purpose of the subpoena.

As we mentioned above, subpoenas can mean different things that will determine what your role with the court will be. That’s why the first step is to determine the purpose of the subpoena. Sometimes, the government will subpoena you because they want to obtain testimony from you at an upcoming trial. Other times, the government may be in the process of a large investigation and documents in your possession are necessary in order for them to proceed. Regardless of what the reason is, it’s essential that you read the subpoena carefully to figure out what role you play in the case at hand.

2.   Consult with an attorney.

As with any matter involving the court, it’s a very good idea to speak with an experienced attorney who can guide you through the process. Because a subpoena can mean a variety of things, from providing testimony to forking over the entire contents of your hard drive, you want to make sure that everything is done in a timely and accurate manner. This is particularly true if your subpoena involves a criminal matter, such as a white collar crime, where document sensitivity is a prominent issue.  Additionally, whether the government views you as a witness, a subject, or a target will help inform your attorney as to what your legal position will be as to the subpoena.

3.   Follow the subpoena

Once you know what the subpoena is about and have worked out a plan with your lawyer, the next thing to do is simple: listen to what the subpoena tells you to do. The subpoena will be very detailed, and if you have any further questions about what you have to do, speak to a lawyer. Your lawyer should also explain the process for asking questions or pushing back on something the subpoena is looking for.

4.   Appear in court or produce the documents on the required date.

After you and your attorney have carefully gone over the subpoena and figured out exactly what you need to do, the final step is following the directive of the subpoena because it’s required by law that you do. Failing to comply with a subpoena may result in your being held in contempt and subject you to a punishment including incarceration until such time as you have complied with the subpoena. Of course, as with anything else, there may be a situation where you run the risk of incriminating yourself if you comply with everything requested in the subpoena. But again, that’s where your attorney comes in to make sure that the subpoena is appropriate in the things that it is asking of you.

Regardless of whether you are a simple witness or potentially involved in a crime, working with an attorney after receiving a subpoena is an invaluable step that you won’t regret taking. At Weisberg Kainen Mark, PL, we understand how sensitive a time this is for you and want to help make the process as painless for you as possible. If you have received a subpoena and need help figuring out what to do next, please contact us at (305) 374-5544 right away!

Written by Weisberg Kainen Mark, PL

Weisberg Kainen Mark, PL

Weisberg Kainen Mark, PL is a Miami-based law firm focused on providing comprehensive legal support to individuals and corporate entities caught up in tax controversies or charged with a criminal act. As experienced trial lawyers with a passion for justice, our firm provides clients with compelling advocacy, attorney availability, and creative solutions to your tax or criminal law matters.