Sports fans learned this weekend that golf great Phil Mickelson was questioned by law enforcement in a FBI and SEC insider trading probe. The target of this investigation remains unknown, and the FBI and SEC have not accused Mickelson or anyone else of any wrongdoing. But the recent news begs a particularly important question for Connecticut residents who receive federal FBI or SEC witness or deposition subpoenas, or are contacted by the FBI, SEC, or Stamford, Greenwich, Darien, New Canaan, Wilton, Norwalk, Fairfield or Westport police. The question: do I need an attorney for witness and subpoena representation in Connecticut?
More times than not, the answer is yes. Here’s why…
As many of the top criminal lawyers in Stamford, Greenwich and anywhere else in Connecticut will explain, federal investigations run by the FBI and SEC get the benefit of proceeding under a certain degree of secrecy. The FBI or SEC will often deliver a target letter to you if you are being suspected of committing a crime or securities violation. The letter will ask you (or your lawyer) to contact authorities to discuss their investigation. Sometimes, however, target letters are not sent out and a grand jury convenes anyway. There, federal prosecutors present evidence to the grand jury in a closed courtroom, seeking an arrest (or indictment) against one or more individuals. During these proceedings, subpoenas are often served on witnesses who the government needs to offer testimony and evidence to the grand jury. These subpoenas sometimes contain documents requests, asking for laundry lists of documents, emails, letters and photographs. We often get calls from people who have received subpoenas and are genuinely scared of going alone into a grand jury hearing. They are afraid they may have criminal exposure or that the FBI and United States Attorney’s office believes they have engaged in criminal conduct. These are all valid concerns and questions, and should be vetted with a top Connecticut witness representation and subpoena lawyer prior to showing up in court or turning over any documentation in response to a subpoena.
On the state level, criminal investigations are not cloaked in such secrecy; however, if you have not been arrested, then the police have no legal obligation to share information with you about who and what they are investigating. The way Connecticut police gather evidence is through search warrants, police and detective interviews, and surveillance. The Connecticut Attorney General’s Office also regularly issues subpoenas to individuals and businesses in the State in connection with many of their consumer protection cases and contractor fraud investigations. They often work arm-in-arm with local police agencies to execute search warrants and serve subpoenas so if you receive a witness subpoena from the Attorney General’s Office, it is a good idea to consult a Connecticut witness representation lawyer before responding.
As to police contact, if a Stamford, Greenwich, Darien, Westport, or New Canaan police detective or officer shows up at your door, it is always a good idea to politely ask him what information he is looking for, take his name and number, and advise him that you will gladly get back in touch with him after you have had a chance to consult with a Connecticut criminal lawyer. Be ready for pushback—the officer may say that you don’t need a lawyer, that you’re not a suspect, or that you will only be making it harder on yourself or your family if you delay the interview. Don’t be intimidated. Anything you say to a police officer can and will be used against you so it’s always a good idea to hire a Greenwich or Stamford criminal lawyer to assist you with witness representation.
In addition to needing to consult a lawyer prior to participating in a federal, state or SEC investigation, many of our clients have hired us to defend and protect them in their role as witnesses in messy divorce actions. Aggressive divorce lawyers like to apply “scorched earth” discovery tactics against their adversary, which oftentimes results in everyone around a divorcing party getting subpoenaed to appear for a deposition or divorce trial, with onerous document requests being slapped on these witnesses to boot. Know that just because a litigant in a civil action asks for documents does not mean you, as the witness, must produce them. You have legal rights to push back and object to these requests based on grounds of harassment, intimidation, burden and cost. So if you have received a witness subpoena for deposition or trial in a Connecticut divorce action, consider hiring a top Connecticut witness lawyer to help you fight back, and possibly quash and suppress the subpoena and its respective document requests.
So whether you have been approached as a witness in an FBI, SEC, Attorney General, or local police investigation, or whether you have been pulled into a contentious divorce proceeding or civil lawsuit in Connecticut, you should contact one of the Witness Representation lawyers at Mark Sherman Law today. We assist witnesses at the state and federal level. We do not let our witnesses get pushed around, and we will aggressively work within legal parameters to attempt to end your involvement in the case and bring closure as quickly as possible.