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Grand Jury Subpoenas in DC Federal Criminal Cases

A subpoena is a court order that is used to compel an individual to either provide documents or to appear in person to testify in a court proceeding in a federal criminal case. By extension, a federal grand jury subpoena is a court order which compels someone to come and testify and/or bring documents to a federal grand jury proceeding.

When someone receives one of these orders, certain issues are implied, which are often difficult to understand without the experience and knowledge of an attorney. For example, there are some situations where a person must testify, while in other circumstances they cannot be compelled to do so. Because of this, contacting a lawyer who is familiar with grand jury subpoenas in DC federal criminal cases could be essential.

Determining What an Order Requires

After receiving a grand jury subpoena in a federal criminal case, it is often advisable to contact a well-versed lawyer to discuss how to proceed. This is because an order might involve numerous complicated procedures. Furthermore, if one is not fulfilled correctly, the individual in question could face severe penalties, including be found in contempt.

For example, when a witness has not responded to a subpoena, a U.S. Marshal could be sent out to arrest the person and bring them to court. Therefore, hiring a lawyer who has experience dealing with these orders might make the process easier, and may protect the subject of the subpoena from further prosecution.

Responding to a Subpoena Duces Tecum

Anyone who is facing a grand jury subpoena must be sure they understand the specific requirements of that order, as well as how it relates to a DC federal criminal case. Simply put, the wording of an order dictates what documents or other items must be produced, and there could be issues related to each of those potential items.

To this end, a well-versed attorney could determine what a specific order requires. For example, some only require that a person appears to testify orally. However, a subpoena duces tecum—also known as a subpoena for production of documents—is more complicated.

Consequently, the response to a subpoena duces tecum is dependent on what it requests. The descriptions of the requested documents are best dissected by a lawyer, who could determine how to respond appropriately if there are issues.

It is not a valid defense to say there are too many documents to look through and produce. However, there are ways to lessen the burden of production by litigation or by agreement. In some cases, for example, a prosecutor and a defense attorney could employ targeted word searches through a large group of documents. When there are numerous documents, they are scanned and put into a pdf format. Specific word searches are then identified that may be used to select documents to satisfy the subpoena.

How an Attorney Could Help Respond to a Grand Jury Subpoena

If you have received a grand jury subpoena in a DC federal criminal case, an attorney could help to guide you through the process, protect your interests, and work to respond fully to all requests. Furthermore, an experienced lawyer may litigate any issues related to the subpoena that go to court, such as arguments about what is and is not substantive to an investigation. If you, or an institution you are a part of, is subject to one of these orders, reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney for advice and guidance today.

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