What is a Subpoena?
A subpoena is a legal document that orders you (at risk of contempt of court) to appear in court to testify. In the context of a grand jury investigation, a subpoena is issued by a federal prosecutor to compel you to testify before a grand jury. If you are the target of a federal investigation (and have received a target letter) that means you have been subpoenaed.
Why Have You Been Subpoenaed?
If you have been subpoenaed, it is likely that you have been under investigation for weeks, months, or longer. At this stage, it is the prosecutor’s goal to obtain an indictment from the grand jury, which will allow the prosecutor to formally charge you with a federal offense.
What Are My Rights When I Have Been Subpoenaed?
As part of the subpoena process, you may also have received a target letter from federal prosecutors. This letter generally informs you of your rights during grand jury proceedings.
The Fifth Amendment says:
“No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury […] nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law […].”
Your rights: You have the constitutional right against self-incrimination, which means that while you may have been subpoenaed, you generally cannot be forced to testify against yourself. You also have the right to retain counsel to represent you.
Important: If you have received a subpoena in the context of a federal investigation, you are being called as a witness to testify before a grand jury. You do NOT have the right to know whether or not what you say will lead to your indictment. Because you do not have this right, and because federal prosecutors routinely bring charges for perjury committed during grand jury proceedings, it is wise to retain counsel.
What Are My Options?
A subpoena from a federal prosecutor is the prosecutor’s effort to obtain information that can be used against you. Retaining counsel as early as possible can help improve the outcome of your case. A criminal defense lawyer can help to protect your constitutional right against self-incrimination and possibly prevent a grand jury indictment when you have been served a subpoena.
Expert Tip : In some cases, an experienced attorney can make a motion to quash (or invalidate) a subpoena; for example, if the subpoena is so broad in scope that it violates the Fourth Amendment and Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 17(c), United States v. Reno, 522 F.2d 572 (10 th Cir. 1975), or if compliance with the subpoena would violate the defendant’s right against self-incrimination. United States v. Hubbell, 530 U.S. 27 (2000).
State v. B.S.: Not Guilty Verdict in First Degree Murder Case.
In this case, our client was charged with First Degree Murder in connection with a “drive by” shooting that occurred in Charlotte, NC. The State’s evidence included GPS ankle monitoring data linking our client was at the scene of the crime and evidence that our client confessed to an inmate while in jail. Nonetheless, we convinced a jury to unanimously find our client Not Guilty. He was released from jail the same day.
State v. S.G.: First Degree Murder Charge Dismissed.
Our client was charged with First Degree for the shooting death related to an alleged breaking and entering. The State’s evidence included a co-defendant alleging that our client was the shooter. After conducting a thorough investigation with the use of a private investigator, we persuaded the State to dismiss entirely the case against our client.
State v. B.D.: First Degree Murder Charged Dismissed.
After conducting an investigation and communicating with prosecutor about the facts and circumstances indicating that our client acted in self-defense, the case was dismissed and deemed a justifiable homicide.
State v. I.R.: Reduction from First Degree Murder to Involuntary Manslaughter and Concealment of Death.
Our client was charged with the First Degree Murder of a young lady by drug overdose. After investigating the decedent’s background and hiring a preeminent expert toxicologist to fight the State’s theory of death, we were able to negotiate this case down from Life in prison to 5 years in prison, with credit for time served.
State v. J.G.:
Our client was charged with First Degree Murder related to a “drug deal gone bad.” After engaging the services of a private investigator and noting issues with the State’s case, we were able to negotiate a plea for our client that avoided a Life sentence and required him to serve only 12 years.