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What is the Senate Subpoena Power?

Dr. Nick Oberheiden
Attorney Nick Oberheiden
Senate Subpoena Power
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If you are facing a congressional subpoena from the Senate, your life just got more complicated. It means the Senate is investigating you or your business. You need an experienced defense attorney to advise you on the best next steps to take.

At the law office of Oberheiden, P.C. our attorneys have years of experience in defending clients against governmental inquiries. Our team of attorneys consists of highly trained defense attorneys and former government attorneys who specialize in compliance, litigation, and defense.

We will intervene in the Senate’s investigation against you to make sure we know all the facts and reasons for the investigation so we can best prepare you for your testimony before the Senate. We can also help to mitigate the damage an open congressional investigation may have on you and your business’s reputation and goodwill.

What is a Senate Investigation?

A congressional investigation is a hearing where Congress examines a specific topic within its legislative powers. A senate investigation takes place either before the entire Senate or, more likely, an investigation conducted by a senate committee or subcommittee. Senate committees or subcommittees consist of anywhere from five to thirty senators- every committee is different.

These committees can investigate any topic within Congress’s enumerated powers. The Supreme Court has held that this investigatory power is broad. As long as the topic of the investigation falls within one of Congress’s enumerated legislative powers and does not infringe on the powers of another branch of government, the investigation is valid. Thus, nine out of ten times the Senate investigation is legitimate.

Nevertheless, our attorneys at Oberheiden, P.C. will take the time to review the investigation to make sure it is valid, and that the Senate committee had the authority to initiate the investigation. The protection of your rights is important so we will review the entire case.

Put our highly experienced team on your side

Dr. Nick Oberheiden
Dr. Nick Oberheiden

Founder

Attorney-at-Law

Lynette S. Byrd
Lynette S. Byrd

Former DOJ Trial Attorney

Partner

Brian J. Kuester
Brian J. Kuester

Former U.S. Attorney

Amanda Marshall
Amanda Marshall

Former U.S. Attorney

Local Counsel

Joe Brown
Joe Brown

Former U.S. Attorney

Local Counsel

John W. Sellers
John W. Sellers

Former Senior DOJ Trial Attorney

Linda Julin McNamara
Linda Julin McNamara

Federal Appeals Attorney

Aaron L. Wiley
Aaron L. Wiley

Former DOJ attorney

Local Counsel

Roger Bach
Roger Bach

Former Special Agent (DOJ)

Chris Quick
Chris J. Quick

Former Special Agent (FBI & IRS-CI)

Michael S. Koslow
Michael S. Koslow

Former Supervisory Special Agent (DOD-OIG)

Ray Yuen
Ray Yuen

Former Supervisory Special Agent (FBI)

Why Did I Get a Subpoena?

Senate committees give out subpoenas to the witnesses they want to come and testify before them. Or a subpoena is sent out to order a party to gather certain documentation and records that would aid the committee in its investigation.

There can be different reasons why the Senate has just sent you a subpoena – there are different types of witnesses to reflect this.

  • Target: If you are the target, then the Senate committee or subcommittee is directly investigating you.
  • Expert witness: If you are this type of witness, then you are giving an opinion based on your expertise in a particular subject area. Expert witnesses are more likely to be “invited” to testify at Congress, not subpoenaed.
  • Other witnesses: Other witnesses could be championing a cause before Congress. Or they may be indirect witnesses in the investigation the Senate is pursuing, though not necessarily the target. You just know of certain events or facts. If you are the indirect witness, then you are more likely to have a subpoena.

Was the Subpoena Issued Properly?

Not only must the investigation be valid, but the subpoena must also be valid. The Senate has the power to issue subpoenas. Furthermore, the United States Supreme Court has upheld both subpoenas from both the House and Senate committees. Thus, the Senate committees and subcommittees also have the power to issue subpoenas. For example, the Senate Judiciary Committee can issue a subpoena and that subpoena has the same legal standing as if the entire Senate body issued it.

For Senate committee subpoenas to be valid, they must comply with the rules of the committee. Our team of attorneys and professionals is well-versed in each Senate committee’s rules and procedures. Thus, we will be able to tell you if the subpoena was issued in accordance with the committee’s rules.

What are the Consequences for Noncompliance of a Subpoena From the Senate?

You may think that you can ignore the subpoena. Maybe it will go away, or you think you can fight it. Remember, usually, the Senate’s investigation and subpoena are proper. And it is doubtful that the senate committee will forget it is investigating you. Thus, you need to know what happens if you do not comply with the subpoena.

  • Civil enforcement – The Senate Committee can bring an action in civil court to get a court order to compel your testimony or documents.
  • Criminal enforcement – It is a criminal offense to refuse to testify or provide requested documentation to either House of Congress. Refusal to testify includes the refusal to appear for the testimony and the refusal to speak when you are there at the hearing. If you fail to comply with the subpoena, that noncompliance is brought to the President of the Senate, whose duty is to forward the case to the Department of Justice. If the DOJ prosecutes your case, you might be found guilty of a misdemeanor and face a fine of up to $1,000 and imprisonment up to 12 months.
  • Damaged Reputation – Bad publicity can be dangerous to you and your business. The fact that you and your company are being investigated can be damaging to your reputation. Being held in contempt of Congress can cause astronomical problems for your business’s reputation. You can lose public trust and customer loyalty. Your stocks may also drop.

At Oberheiden, P.C. our team of attorneys will help you comply with your subpoena while simultaneously making sure your rights are protected. We will confer with all parties involved to make sure we understand the exact scope of the investigation so we can help prepare your testimony and documents.

Contact the Senate Subpoena Law firm of Oberheiden P.C.

If you received a Senate subpoena, then you need to speak to an attorney immediately. You’re facing a complicated legal system crammed with politics and lots of media oversight. Our legal team of attorneys and professionals will be able to advise you on how to respond to the subpoena, how to prepare for testimony or documents, and how to mitigate media attention to protect your business’s reputation.

You have enough to worry about. Let us help take some of the pressure off your shoulders. Don’t delay! Contact Oberheiden, P.C. today, and let us start helping you!

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