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Commissioner's Subpoena

If you were served with a commissioner's subpoena by an Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) with the Office of the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Florida, acting pursuant to 18 U.S.C. Section 3512 and/or the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty in Criminal Matters (MLAT), then call an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss your rights and responsibilities when responding to the subpoena in Florida.

The subpoena will command you to appear before an AUSA (also called a "federal prosecutor") at a specific time and place to provide evidence, documents, testimony or videoconference testimony in a legal proceeding regarding violations of the criminal laws of another country.

The subpoena is issued after the foreign government makes an application for an order pursuant to 18 U.S.C. Section 3512. The commissioner, the AUSA, is authorized to serve the subpoena on you consistent with the treaty request and the order of the United States District Court.

Upon the prosecutor's request, the U.S. District Court will often place the matter under seal. If the matter is placed under seal, then no notice of the subpoena or its contents is to be given to any person unless otherwise authorized to do so by the Court, except that the witness may notify an attorney of the subpoena and its contents for the purpose of obtaining legal advice.

Anyone who receives a copy of the subpoena, including your criminal defense attorney, must be advised that the matter is under seal.


Attorney for the Commissioner's Subpoena in Florida's Federal Court

If you were served with a commissioner's subpoena that requires you to provide testimony during a deposition or a hearing in a foreign country via video conferencing or other means, then contact an attorney at the Sammis Law Firm in Tampa, FL.

We can help you file and litigate a motion to modify or quash the subpoena. We can also sit with you during your testimony to help you assert any privileges that might apply.

Call an attorney at the Sammis Law Firm to discuss your rights and responsibilities after being served with a commissioner's subpoena that requires you to attend a hearing in court or at the AUSA's office in Tampa, FL, or the surrounding areas in central Florida.

Call 813-250-0500.


Filing a Motion to Quash / Modify the Commissioner's Subpoena 

The witness, usually through their criminal defense attorney, is permitted to file a motion for good cause shown in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida to quash or modify the subpoena if the witness opposes giving evidence or testimony in the matter or the manner in which the evidence is to be produced. The motion to quash or modify the subpoena must be served on the Commissioner with the United States Attorney’s Office.

The motion to quash or modify the subpoena must be served on the Commissioner with the United States Attorney’s Office.

Failure to attend and provide testimony, or for disclosure of the existence of the subpoena, you may be deemed guilty of contempt and liable to penalties under the law. For this reason, it is important to have an attorney at your side during every step of the process.


Declining to Answer the Question by Taking the Fifth

Under some circumstances, your criminal defense attorney might tell you to "take the fifth." To accomplish this task, your attorney will go with you and sit beside you during your testimony. For testimony compelled by the

For testimony compelled by the commissioner's subpoena, you must appear, but after you appear you can assert any legal privilege that applies, both foreign and domestic.

For example, if the question requires you to disclose facts that might incriminate you for your role in any type of crime (regardless of whether you are actually guilty or not) then you would often have the right to decline to answer the question under the Fifth Amendment or another federally recognized testimonial privileges.

Your attorney can sit next to you during the hearing and help you assert any applicable privileges. The privileges available in your case depend on the specific facts and circumstances, so you must seek out legal advice by talking to a criminal defense attorney in a confidential setting.

Asserting your right to remain silent is particularly important when the criminal offense constitutes a crime in the foreign county or in the United States or both. In many of these cases, the testimony sought involves the "dual criminality." The term "dual criminality" refers to allegation of criminal conduct for which the foreign state seeks assistance when it also constitutes a crime in the requested state.


Additional Resources

The Commissioner's Subpoena to Assist in Foreign Prosecutions - Visit the website of the United States Department of Justice to find the U.S. Attorneys’ Manual in section 286 on Assisting Foreign Prosecutions. Learn more about why witnesses may invoke any applicable privilege, domestic or foreign. Under some treaties, claims of foreign privileges are reserved for disposition in the requesting state. Witnesses may be represented by counsel, but an indigent witness is not entitled to a court appointed attorney. Learn more about why the witness might be asked to sign the deposition, which can be certified by the commission and returned to OIA.

18 U.S.C. § 3512 - Visit the website of the GPO, U.S. Government Publishing Office to find out more about the about the federal statute that provides a “clear statutory system” for handling MLAT requests. 155 Cong. Rec. S6810 (daily ed. June 18, 2009) (statement of Sen. Whitehouse); see 18 U.S.C. § 3512 (enacted Oct. 19, 2009). § 3512 is often the government's preferred authority for executing MLAT requests).

Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty - Visit Wikipedia to learn more about a mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT). A MLAT is an agreement between two or more countries to facilitate exchanging information, documents or testimony in an effort to enforce the laws in one country when the witness or documents are located in another country. The treaty facilitates cooperation between the law enforcement officers and prosecutors in one or more counties. The use of mutual legal assistance developed from the comity-based system of letters rogatory. Today, states make mutual legal assistance requests directly to the designated central authority within another state or country. Some countries will deny assistance according to the details of the agreement for security or political reasons.


Attorney for the Commissioner's Subpoena in Tampa, FL

Call us if you were served with a commissioner's subpoena by an Assistant U.S. Attorney at the Office of the US Attorney for the Middle District of Florida, acting pursuant to 18 U.S.C. Section 3512, or the Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance (MLAT) in Criminal Matters.

We can help you file and litigate a motion to quash or a motion to modify the commissioner's subpoena. Our attorneys also represent individuals with an outstanding warrant who is subject to extradition to or from Hillsborough County, or the surrounding areas in the State of Florida, or issues related to the extradition of a witness.

Let us put our experience to work for you. Call 813-250-0500 to discuss your case today.


This article was last updated on Friday, June 8, 2018.