Government Subpoenas and Investigations

We regularly represent people or businesses who are contacted by government agencies in connection with a civil or criminal investigation.

It’s an increasingly common experience in our modern world as governments continue to stretch their powers and resources; adopt and employ the latest technology; share information and cooperate across borders; blur the line between civil and criminal enforcement; and rely on criminal laws to control the way people and businesses behave.

You may not even know you’re mixed up in something until you’re served with a subpoena or search warrant or until you’re contacted by a law-enforcement agent. Even afterward, you may not believe you’re a target, or you may not be sure. You may just feel anxious, afraid, or confused. You may wonder what it all means and what will happen next.

But please understand something: you need a lawyer. There is a criminal investigation underway or a civil investigation that may turn into a criminal one if it hasn’t already. The government may see you as a target, a witness, or something in between, but you need a lawyer to represent you, and you should not deal with the government on your own.

So contact us. We will immediately step between you and the government, undertake our own investigation, and get to the bottom of it. Just because the government says something doesn’t make it so, and we take pride in pushing back on investigations and shutting them down or plucking our clients from the fray as often—and as quickly—as possible.

Here are some common tools in the government’s toolbox.

Subpoenas for the Testimony of Witnesses

These include grand-jury subpoenas that are issued on behalf of a grand jury in a county or district, but they also include civil investigative demands (CIDs) that are issued by government agencies.

These subpoenas order you to personally appear before a grand jury or government agency and give testimony under oath.

But you should consult a lawyer first, and you should not discuss the subject matter of the subpoena with anyone until you’ve done so. Your testimony, no matter how harmless you think it, may implicate you in some theory of wrongdoing, and if so then it can and will be used against you to advance the government’s agenda. In some cases, you may be able to testify without consequence. In others, you’ll need to invoke your constitutional rights to avoid being forced to testify. But in every case, you should consult an experienced defense attorney to determine the best course of action.

Subpoenas for the Production of Documents

These include grand-jury subpoenas, administrative-agency subpoenas, and civil investigative demands (CIDs) that require you to produce data, documents, or other things for the government to review. The subpoena will include an attachment that lists or describes the documents or things that you must produce.

For example, the government can use these subpoenas to obtain records that identify the owner of an electronic device, including a cell phone, as well as records of the numbers you’ve called or sent messages to; the numbers that have called or messaged you; when those communications took place; and even where you were at the time.

As in the case of a subpoena for testimony, you should consult a lawyer before responding to a subpoena for documents or other things. You should neither ignore it nor attempt to respond to it yourself because you may expose yourself to serious legal liability.

Witness Interviews and Confidential Informants

The government may also investigate a matter by interviewing witnesses and getting statements from them or by tapping its vast network of confidential informants. Some informants provide information to work off their own legal problems while others do it in exchange for financial compensation. And you may never know it.

The government will often try to interview targets to get them to incriminate themselves. That may seem like a first step of investigation, but it’s often the last. In one common scenario, the government will approach and ask a series of questions that it already knows the answers to. If your words condemn you then it will wrap its investigation up with your confession, and if they don’t then it will use any inconsistencies as leverage against you.

That’s why you should never agree to such interviews without representation. The government has a license to lie to you, and it may bend or even break the rules to make a case. Save your words for your lawyer, and let him or her communicate anything you’d like to say. It’s the prudent way to protect yourself and avoid misunderstandings.

Search Warrants and Wiretap Orders

These are court orders that authorize the government to search and seize you or your property or to intercept and record your private communications or location in real time. To obtain a search warrant, the government must demonstrate probable cause to believe its search will yield evidence of a crime, and it must describe, in detail, the places it will search and the things it will seize. To obtain a wiretap order, the government must also explain why it can’t make do with the other, less intrusive tools of investigation as well as how it will minimize its surveillance to what’s necessary.

Think Defense®

As a former federal prosecutor, Mr. Dabiri has conducted government investigations, and he knows the playbook. So contact us today. We’ll assess the situation and determine how best to proceed, and at each step of the way, we’ll stand between you and the government to protect your interests and well-being.

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