The most common question regarding attorney general investigations is whether it is necessary to retain an attorney for the interview. The answer is yes!
During the course of an investigation the attorney general's office will usually subpoena one or more witnesses for interviews. The interviews are usually made under oath. A court reporter is often present. The court reporter writes down everything that is said at the interview and later makes a transcript of the interview.
Many people wonder whether it is truly necessary to hire an attorney to help them out during the interview. They often think that since they are planning on telling the truth anyway, having an attorney present will not change anything. This is a common misconception.
Providing sworn and recorded testimony in an investigation can be risky. Based upon what is said at the interview, the witness may become more of a target in the investigation. This could lead to significant exposure. Although you might feel that you are innocent of any wrongdoing, the attorney general's office may have a different view of the matter.
An attorney can help prepare the witness for the interview by describing how interviews are conducted and how a witness should act during the interview. During the interview an attorney can assist in ensuring that the testimony is not misunderstood or misconstrued by the interviewer. The attorney can also assert any objections that might be necessary to protect the witness from far reaching or inappropriate questioning, or to assert a legal privilege against testifying.
Additionally, witnesses can incriminate themselves. As you know, the 5th Amendment protects people from having to give testimony that might cause them to be prosecuted for a crime. An attorney can protect a witness from giving incriminating testimony. If the attorney general's office insists on taking testimony that might be incriminating, the attorney can work to obtain an appropriate order from the court protecting the witness from having the incriminating testimony used against them in the future.
And that is not all. The attorney can determine whether the witness has any grounds for challenging the subpoena, and if so, the attorney can file a motion in court for an order quashing or modifying the subpoena. The attorney can also gauge the risk that the witness might become a target of the investigation.
There are plenty of ways that an attorney can help a witness that has been subpoenaed by the attorney general's office. If you have been subpoenaed to testify, do not go alone. Protect yourself and retain an attorney. Harmony Law can help.