Maybe you were suspicious that you were being investigated for some kind of financial crimes, and maybe you weren’t. Either way, you’ve just received a subpoena for a lot of your business records.
What should you do now?
No matter what, you can’t afford to ignore the situation and hope it will go away (because it won’t). A subpoena is a legal order from a court that requires you to produce documents or appear in court (or both), and you can be subject to serious legal penalties if you don’t respond.
Responding, however, doesn’t necessarily mean you have to comply. Here are some things to consider:
- Why are you being subpoenaed? You need to understand exactly what the subpoena’s purpose is and what kind of legal liability you or your company may face as a result.
- What will it take for you to comply with the order? Depending on the nature of the order, you may have a big job ahead of you. It may be both costly and time consuming to comply, and that can lead to financial concerns.
- What kind of information are you being asked to disclose? If the documents you’re being asked to turn over include sensitive, confidential or privileged information about your clients or customers, you may not be required to turn some of them over.
- Is the subpoena valid? If the wording is too broad, the service is improper or there are other problems, you may be able to challenge it.
- Do you have what is being requested? The subpoena may be asking for documents you no longer have — or the request may be so vague that you can’t understand it.
One thing you should never do if you’re faced with a subpoena for your business records is seek to destroy them. The smart move is to speak with an attorney as soon as possible about your options. Your attorney can help protect your rights.