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Harrison & Hart takes the tough cases.

No matter the case, we’re dedicated to finding the best possible outcome. While we can’t guarantee a particular result, we’ll fight for you at every turn and with our experience, we’ve likely handled a case like yours.

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What Constitutes Illegal Search and Seizure in New Mexico?

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects the privacy of all citizens. You have a right against unreasonable searches and seizures of your personal property from your person, home, business, and other places where you can reasonably expect privacy. There are legal safeguards to protect your privacy against illegal searches and seizures.

New Mexico Search and Seizure Laws

Both state and federal laws protect you against illegal searches and seizures. You cannot be searched, and your property cannot be taken unless law enforcement has probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed.

However, specific wording in the New Mexico state constitution makes the application of this 4th Amendment right unique. This wording led to a definitive ruling in the case State v. Gomez.

Because of this case and others, “application of the New Mexico Constitution’s protections regarding search and seizure can lead to better outcomes for criminal defendants than the application of the Fourth Amendment protections enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.” In other words, the New Mexico Constitution offers you more protection than does the U.S. Constitution.

When Is a Warrant Needed?

In most situations, law enforcement must have a search warrant to search a person or their property and seize property.

If an officer has information that indicates you may be involved in a crime, they must seek a warrant from the court. Their request must have enough information to show probable cause that a crime was committed.

If officers want to search a specific person or location, they must have information showing that the person or place was involved in the crime. A police officer cannot just get a warrant based on a hunch.

Exceptions to When a Warrant is Needed

There are some exceptions to when a warrant is necessary, including:

  • The circumstances are emergent
  • The search will protect law enforcement or others from immediate harm
  • Evidence is in plain view of an officer
  • An officer is making an inventory of things collected during an arrest (all other regulations must be followed)
  • The person voluntarily consented to a search

If any exceptions apply, a police officer or investigator may perform a search. If they find illegal objects, they can seize them under these circumstances.

When Is a Search and Seizure Illegal?

A search and seizure is illegal if an officer does not have probable cause that a crime has been committed. If they do not have a warrant to search you and there is no specifically mentioned circumstance as an exception, then any search and seizure may be illegal.

What Happens to Evidence Found Illegally?

Evidence recovered as the result of an illegal search and seizure may be excluded from the case. It would be considered inadmissible because it was obtained illegally.

Evidence obtained from an illegal search and seizure is called “fruit of the poisonous tree.” The Fruit of the Poisonous Tree doctrine excludes illegally obtained evidence.

Your criminal defense attorney can file a motion to exclude evidence obtained illegally. Without that evidence, the prosecutor may not have enough information to support your charges. If that is the case, then your charges may be dismissed.

It’s important to know that there are ways law enforcement can keep this evidence in a case. For example, if the prosecutor can prove it would have been discovered naturally regardless of the illegal search, it may be allowed to stay. You must work with a lawyer who can dispute these claims.

What to Do If You Believe You’ve Been Illegally Searched

It can be hard to challenge the validity of a search and seizure. You will need to have solid proof that your rights were violated.

You may be able to obtain evidence, including the officer’s body camera, eyewitness statements, and the police report. You will likely have to fight against the claims of the law enforcement officer.

If you think you were illegally searched, you should immediately contact a criminal defense attorney and tell them what happened. Write down exactly what happened and collect as much information as possible. Provide your lawyer with as many facts as possible.

Contact Harrison & Hart, LLC Today

If your constitutional rights have been violated, you have options regarding how to proceed. Your best step is to contact a criminal defense lawyer at Harrison & Hart, LLC. We will immediately start working on your case and ensure your rights are protected.

Call us today at (505) 295-3261 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.

What Is a Drug Conspiracy Charge?

Drug conspiracy includes an array of drug-related activities. Federal charges result in decades in prison, significant fines, and other severe penalties. You should avoid these charges at all costs.

Types of Drug Conspiracy Charges

Federal drug conspiracy is a crime that may or may not actually involve handling drugs. The government must simply prove that:

  1. There was an agreement between two or more people to break a federal drug law
  2. You knew about the conspiracy and knowingly joined it

You don’t need to have completed the criminal offense to be convicted of drug conspiracy. You must have had intent to commit the crime.

Manufacturing a Controlled Substance 

One of the most common federal drug conspiracy offenses involves manufacturing a controlled substance. This may include growing, processing, extracting, or producing illegal drugs.

Distributing a Controlled Substance 

Planning (or conspiring) to deliver illegal drugs to another person may be considered distributing a controlled substance. You don’t have to exchange money to get convicted of drug conspiracy under the distribution of a controlled substance. Any distribution qualifies under this law, including fake prescriptions, online drug pharmacies, and delivering illegal drugs to another person.

Possessing a Controlled Substance with the Intent to Distribute It

Simple drug possession involves having it on your person or within your control. However, the government may try to prove that you conspired to distribute the drugs or sell them. You may be charged with conspiracy to distribute drugs if you also possess baggies, scales, or other evidence of drug sales.

Importation of a Controlled Substance

Conspiracy to import illegal drugs may involve bringing a controlled substance into the United States from another country — this may take place by plane, boat, or roadway. The larger the operation, the more likely you will get the maximum penalties.

Consequences of Drug Conspiracy Charges

The penalties for federal drug conspiracy convictions depend on the amount and type of drug involved in the crime.


  • No alleged amount – up to 40 years in federal prison
  • 100 kg or more – between five and 40 years in federal prison
  • 1,000 kg or more – between 10 and 40 years in federal prison


  • 100 kg or more – between five and 40 years in federal prison
  • 1 kg or more – between 10 and 40 years in federal prison

Cocaine and Crack Cocaine

  • 500 g or more of cocaine or 28 g or more of crack – between five and 40 years in federal prison
  • 5 kg or more of cocaine or 280 g or more of crack – between 10 and 40 years in federal prison


  • Less than 5 g – up to 20 years in federal prison
  • 5 g or more – between five and 40 years in federal prison
  • 50 g or more – 10 years up to life in prison

Opioids and GHB (including ketamine and fentanyl)

  • Up to 20 years in federal prison
  • Enhanced penalties involving death or serious injury to another person
  • Enhanced penalties for any prior felony drug convictions

Possible Defenses to Drug Conspiracy Charges

Many of the defenses against drug conspiracy charges are similar to those that can be used in other criminal cases. Those include:

  • Illegal search or seizure
  • Lack of valid search warrant
  • Law enforcement exceeded search warrant
  • Law enforcement failed to read your Miranda rights
  • You were denied legal counsel after a request
  • Law enforcement entrapped you in a conspiracy situation

However, some unique defense tactics can be used with conspiracy charges. For example, conspiracy is a “specific intent” crime. That means you must have had actual knowledge and intent to commit the crime. It is not required that you committed the crime. However, you must have purposefully conspired to commit the crime.

Also, if you withdrew from the conspiracy before the crime occurred, you can use this to your benefit. This would be an especially strong defense if you worked with law enforcement against the conspiracy.

Contact a Drug Conspiracy Lawyer Right Away

If the government charges you with federal drug conspiracy, they have likely already conducted an investigation and have significant evidence against you. You must hire a drug crime lawyer immediately to get someone on your side to protect your rights. You need an independent investigation and practical assistance from your counsel.

Call Harrison & Hart, LLC today at (505) 295-3261 or contact us online to schedule a case consultation.

How Long Is a Federal Sentence for Money Laundering?

Money laundering is a federal white-collar crime that can result in significant penalties, including decades in prison. The Money Laundering Control Act of 1986 establishes details of this crime and consequences that defendants may face for violating the law. Under federal law, you could face up to 20 years in prison and hefty fines.

What Is Money Laundering?

Money laundering occurs when an individual disguises the source, amount, or destination of money obtained by illegal means. This often happens through bank transfers and interactions with legitimate businesses. Funds are usually obtained through embezzlement, fraud, drug trafficking, or other unlawful activities.

Money laundering is often associated with other crimes, such as racketeering, tax evasion, credit card fraud, cryptocurrency crimes, and white-collar crimes that may be added or lesser included charges.

Domestic Money Laundering

Domestic money laundering is often associated with false organizational operations. An individual may form a business and transfer money between domestic bank accounts. The more money is transferred, the harder it is to track. To avoid money laundering charges, it’s important to carefully track every penny in personal and business accounts.

International Money Laundering

Many money laundering activities take place between domestic and international bank accounts. International bank accounts are more difficult to track. This makes it easier for an individual to hide the source, amount, and destination of money. International money laundering may result in criminal charges in more than one country.

Undercover “Sting” Laundering Operations

If the government suspects money laundering is occurring, they may set up an undercover “sting” operation. A sting operation creates a situation where an individual may take part in money laundering where they would not otherwise. Sting operations are often considered “entrapment,” where the police persuade an individual into illegal activity.

Federal Sentencing for Money Laundering

There is no mandatory minimum sentence for federal money laundering charges. However, the penalties can be severe. The government views money laundering very harshly.

A money laundering conviction could result in up to 20 years in federal prison. Additionally, you will likely face a fine of up to $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the laundering, whichever is greater.

Money laundering convictions are often combined with other charges, such as racketeering. By combining the offenses, you may face even stricter penalties.

Sentencing Factors

Although the maximum penalty for money laundering is significant, it is unlikely that a person will receive the harshest consequences unless aggravating factors are present. If you are a first-time offender, your criminal defense lawyer can present mitigating factors to lessen your sentence.

Some mitigating factors that may make your sentence less harsh include:

  • This is your first criminal offense
  • You can quickly pay all fines and restitution
  • You opt for alternative punishments like community service
  • You weren’t aware of the circumstances surrounding the crime
  • You didn’t know the source of the money
  • Extent you worked with or assisted law enforcement
  • Lack of knowledge of specific facts
  • Whether you take a plea bargain or go to trial

Aggravating factors can also make your sentence worse, up to the maximum length of time in prison. Those aggravating factors include:

  • Extent to which you were involved in the crime
  • Knowledge of what took place
  • Involvement of other individuals in the crime
  • Length of time the activities occurred

Defending Against Money Laundering Charges

Your money laundering defense attorney can attack the allegations against you in many ways. Some common defenses and strategies used include:

  • There was no underlying criminal conduct
  • You did not have the requisite intent to commit the crime
  • You did not know that the money was from an illegal source
  • There was an illegal search and seizure
  • You were not read Miranda rights
  • You were not provided with legal counsel when requested

Any illegally obtained evidence, including your own statements, may be excluded from the case. If the judge grants a motion to exclude evidence, the prosecution may not have enough information to sustain charges against you, and your case may be dismissed.

A Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help

Money laundering charges result in severe penalties that seriously affect your private and professional life. You need to work with a white-collar crime lawyer who can protect your legal rights and reputation.

Call Harrison & Hart, LLC today at (505) 295-3261 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.

How to Hire a Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been federally indicted (charged with a federal crime), you need to quickly hire an attorney you can trust. Whatever you do, don’t talk to the feds without your federal criminal defense lawyer present. You can make some considerations to ensure you get the right person on your side.

Tips for Hiring the Right Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer

No one wants to hire an attorney. However, working with the right federal criminal defense lawyer can help you avoid the worst parts of the entire situation.

Ask About Their Experience

You should ask all potential lawyers about their experience with cases like yours. If you face federal embezzlement charges, you will want a federal lawyer familiar with white-collar crimes.

Some attorneys focus on murders or sex crimes. You need someone who has specifically worked with the laws that will be used to target you.

You also need someone who knows federal law inside and out. Some attorneys primarily practice in state courts and aren’t as knowledgeable about federal laws, court processes, and penalties.

Discuss Fees

All attorneys charge fees, but some take money in different methods or for various types of services. You need to clearly understand the costs of your legal services and how you will be charged.

Most federal criminal defense attorneys request an up-front deposit called a retainer. They will generally charge an hourly rate and pull from the retainer until it is exhausted or to a certain level. Then, you will be expected to replenish that retainer.
You should also clearly understand what you will be charged for. For example, you may have to pay for court costs, but you may also have to pay for copying and postal expenses. Your attorney’s office should give you a list of standard costs they apply to your account in addition to legal fees for the attorney’s time.

Above all, the most important thing for you to know is your attorney’s hourly rate or flat fee. If your attorney charges you by the hour, keep in mind that means money for every email and text message. A flat fee is less common for criminal defense attorneys, and you may not get as many services with a flat fee.

Gauge Their Communication Skills

You should ask your attorney how they communicate with clients, including how often and who will return calls. Some lawyers use a lot of “legalese,” or confusing legal language, that takes time to understand. You want to work with someone who uses plain language and calls you back quickly.

When you discuss your case with your attorney, you should get an idea of their ability to speak and write persuasively. They must use available evidence to persuade the court or jury to rule in your favor. You can do this by asking about your best arguments and what information supports those claims.

Arrange a Consultation

Your attorney should address these questions and any other concerns during a consultation. When you initially call a law firm, you will likely speak with an administrative professional. However, your consultation should be with an actual federal criminal defense attorney.

During your consultation, you can ask about the outlook for your case. A good lawyer will be honest and truthfully tell you the chances you have of receiving a positive outcome. If things don’t look great, your attorney can at least tell you some alternatives to the harshest penalties and how they can help you avoid the worst-case scenario.

Learn More from a Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer

Before you decide which federal criminal defense lawyer you want to hire, ask them enough questions that you are comfortable with their representation. You must trust them with personal information, some of which may be incriminating. Be honest with your potential lawyer and know that everything you share with them is privileged.

The federal criminal defense attorneys at Harrison & Hart, LLC have helped countless people facing federal indictments. We develop strategic defenses that help our clients get the best outcome possible in their cases. Call us today at (505) 295-3261 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.

5 Signs You Could Be Under Federal Investigation

Many federal agencies are authorized to carry out investigations. If you think you may be under federal investigation, you should contact a federal defense attorney immediately.

Those agencies will collect evidence against you, and you need someone on your side to protect your rights and prevent federal charges or arrest.

Who Conducts Federal Investigations?

Many federal agencies may conduct investigations. They may be tipped off by an informant, or your actions may seem suspicious. No matter the reason for their investigation, you need to find out who they are and what they want.

Some of the agencies that have the authorization to perform formal investigations include:

  • The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)
  • The Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
  • The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI)
  • The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
  • The Secret Service (SS)
  • The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (AFT)

Federal investigations generally arise because a government agency believes you have broken a federal law, you committed a crime on federal land, or your crime occurred across state lines.

What Happens in a Federal Investigation?

A federal investigation may begin when there is a report about a crime that has been committed. In some cases, federal charges are related to data obtained by a federal agency, such as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Upon receiving information about a federal crime, special agents will begin a federal investigation involving an organization or individual. They will gather evidence and interview witnesses. Multiple federal agencies may be involved in a single case.

Federal agents work on a case that is assigned to a federal prosecutor. The prosecutor helps the agents obtain legal documents like subpoenas and search warrants. The prosecutor also files formal criminal charges.

Federal agents use many tools to collect information during their investigation and obtain a federal indictment.

How Long Does a Federal Investigation Take?

A federal investigation could get resolved quickly, or years could pass. The length of time depends on how long it takes agents to obtain the information they need to support federal criminal charges.

5 Signs You Might Be Under Federal Investigation

You should be aware of some telltale signs that you are under federal investigation. This helps you determine when to contact a federal defense attorney to protect your interests.

1. You Receive a Target Letter

A federal prosecutor may issue a target letter requesting your cooperation in the case. It will ask you to speak with the investigators and provide information about a specific topic.

The letter may not state exactly what they want to know. You should never answer their questions without first getting legal advice from a federal criminal defense attorney.

2. You Are Served a Subpoena

The court may order a subpoena to force you to testify in a case. They could also order one to obtain documents, such as business records or tax information. If you receive a federal subpoena, you should know your Constitutional right against self-incrimination.

3. Your Friends or Family Are Questioned

Federal agents may begin questioning friends, family, or business partners. If they ask about you or your organization, you may be the target of a federal investigation. You should tell your acquaintances not to answer their questions willingly and immediately call a federal defense lawyer.

4. You’re Approached by Federal Agents

If federal agents have a significant amount of evidence against you, they might talk to you directly to get more information. They may knock on your door unexpectedly and ask to speak with you. You should never talk to federal agents without first seeking legal counsel.

5. A Search Warrant Has Been Issued

If a federal agent approaches you with a search warrant to look at your home, business, or other location, you should know that you are likely under investigation. The prosecutor must have enough probable cause to prove to a judge that you may have committed a crime to get a search warrant. You must allow the federal agents to execute a search warrant, but do not offer any additional information without your lawyer present.

What to Do if You’re Under Federal Investigation

You must call a defense lawyer with experience in federal crimes if you think a federal agency is investigating you. Your federal defense lawyer could help protect your rights and interests throughout an investigation.

You have a right to have an attorney present at all stages of a federal investigation. If federal agents approach you, do not waive your right to legal counsel. Federal investigators are trained to get you to talk. Don’t succumb to their tactics. Call an attorney before you discuss anything with them.

Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Offer Legal Protection

If you are the target of a federal investigation, you may have no idea what steps you should take. Instead of trying to diffuse the situation alone, contact a federal lawyer who can evaluate the situation and help you present a solid defense.

Contact Harrison & Hart, LLC today at (505) 295-3261, or use our online form to reach out.

Street Crime vs. White-Collar Crime

You might think all crime is the same – involving guns, gangs, and violence. However, crime commonly depicted in media is usually what is called “street crime” or “blue collar crime.”

There is another type of crime called “white-collar crime.” These terms sound confusing, but they are very descriptive of the kinds of offenses involved in each.

Defining White Collar and Street Crimes

There are many similarities and differences between street crimes and white-collar crimes.

Street crime, also called “blue-collar crime,” is often thought to be committed by stereotypical criminals. These crimes often involve weapons and violence; however, they don’t have to. There is generally an easily identifiable victim in street crime offenses.

On the other hand, white-collar crime is typically committed by business and government professionals (who often wear button-up shirts with white collars). These crimes are non-violent and may be challenging to identify. They may cause significant monetary damage instead of physical harm.

These illegal acts often appear to be general work activities for a white-collar criminal. Despite this, white-collar crimes do have victims. Those victims may be individuals, or the victim may be a business or the public in general.

Types of White-Collar Crime

White-collar crimes often cross state lines and may be federal offenses. They have significant penalties and consequences that can ruin the lives of those accused, regardless of whether they are ultimately convicted.

Some common types of white-collar crime include:

  • Corporate fraud
  • Money laundering
  • Securities & commodities fraud
  • Falsification of financial information
  • Self-dealing by corporate insiders (insider trading)
  • Mortgage and financial institution/bank fraud
  • Intellectual property theft/piracy
  • Bribery
  • Embezzlement
  • Forgery
  • Health care fraud
  • Identity theft
  • Ponzi schemes
  • Public corruption

Often multiple law enforcement agencies are involved in the investigations of these crimes. These investigations can take years to complete because obtaining the necessary evidence for a federal indictment can be complicated.

Types of Street Crime

There are generally two types of street crimes – crimes against persons and crimes against property.

Some crimes against other people include:

  • Murder
  • Manslaughter
  • Assault
  • Battery
  • Sexual assault
  • Rape
  • Domestic violence
  • Robbery

Some common crimes against property include:

  • Burglary
  • Motor vehicle theft
  • Shoplifting
  • Trespassing
  • Vandalism
  • Arson

Street crime may be charged in state or federal court. However, local law enforcement often begins the investigation, which may be transferred to federal agencies if criminal charges are initiated.

Public Perceptions of White-Collar vs. Street Crime

People generally think of these two categories of crime differently. There is a negative public perception of street crime, with very few excuses for such behavior. White-collar crime is not as negatively viewed, and the public may be more likely to excuse it for various reasons.

Perceptions of Street Criminals

The stereotypical street criminal may be thought of as an inherently “bad” individual who commits criminal acts purposefully to harm another person. One of the elements of most street crimes is that the criminal had the necessary “intent” to harm another person.

Additionally, the news media covers street crime frequently and highlights it often. Blue-collar crime is generally easier to understand and form an opinion about. The public usually has a disproportionate view of how prevalent street crime is compared to white-collar crime.

Perceptions of White-Collar Criminals

White-collar criminals are often motivated by money and do not want to hurt others. The public may even applaud a white-collar criminal who “sticks it to the man” and defrauds a large company. Public perception of white-collar crime is not as negative as street crimes.

In some cases, white-collar criminals are more affluent and have connections in the professional world. Their behavior may be swept under the rug or ignored in some circles. Although a federal indictment will bring their criminal activity to light, the public may not understand precisely what happened or who has been harmed.

Prosecution and Punishment of Street Crime vs. White-Collar Crime

Although street crime and white-collar crime are different, they are prosecuted and punished similarly. Both types of crime begin with an investigation by law enforcement and charges brought against an individual. You have a right to effective legal assistance no matter what crime you have been charged with.

Street crime is typically prosecuted in state court, and penalties include time in prison and fines— white-collar crime is more often seen in federal courts. Penalties may also include prison time, but fines are usually much higher for white-collar crimes. For example, a conviction for insider trading can result in a fine of up to $5 million.

Instead of prison, white-collar crimes may result in home detention, community confinement, and supervised release. Since these crimes are not violent, defendants may have more options for punishment.

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney for Any Type of Charges

You need a criminal defense lawyer if you or a loved one has been charged with a street or white-collar crime. Both categories of offenses result in severe penalties that can affect your entire life.

You need to contact someone with experience with crimes like yours and familiar with relevant laws.

Harrison & Hart, LLC has helped clients with all types of crimes. Call us today at (505) 295-3261 or use our online contact form to reach out.

How Long Do Criminal Appeals Take in New Mexico?

If you are convicted of a crime, you might feel like the future is bleak. However, this does not have to be the end. You still have options, including filing a direct appeal of your conviction.

Many mistakes and errors could lead to a reversal of the decision in your case. You have limited time to file an appeal, so you should contact a criminal appeals lawyer as soon as possible. Then, the appeal can take time to work through the New Mexico court system.

The Steps in the Criminal Appeal Process

Specific steps must be taken when filing a criminal appeal. You may forfeit your right to appeal if you miss any steps or fail to take them within a deadline.

Filing Your Notice of Appeal

A Notice of Appeal (NOA) is a simple document that puts the court on notice that you are appealing your conviction. Within the NOA, you must have the following information:

  • Names of both parties
  • Name and address of appellate counsel
  • Name of the trial court
  • Copy of the original judgment or order showing the date
  • Certificate of the district attorney

The NOA must be filed with the court clerk, and a copy must be served on the other party. In a criminal case, the other party is the district attorney or prosecutor.

Filing Your Docketing Statement

A docketing statement is a substitute for a transcript of proceedings. It is an adequate alternative to a complete transcript when the entire one is not necessary. It could take two to six weeks to obtain and file a docketing statement.

How Long Does It Take for a Case to Be Calendared

The docketing statement allows the court to calendar your appeal. It could take an average of two months to calendar a case after the docketing statement is filed with the Court of Appeals. If the docketing statement is filed earlier, your case may be calendared earlier.

How Long Does It Take for the Court to Decide a Case?

It could take a few months to two years for the Court of Appeal to decide your case. Cases take, on average, about one and a half years from the date the NOA was filed to be determined by an appellate court. However, about 5% of the cases on the calendar take much longer.

The time varies so much because there may be circumstances that extend the process. For example, if the attorneys file lengthy briefs or ask for an oral hearing, the appeal may take longer to move through the system.

Once a case is put on the calendar, it usually only takes six months to get a decision from the appellate court.

How Can a Criminal Appeals Attorney Help You

Appealing a criminal decision can be complex. If you want to succeed, you must raise all possible challenges to the lower court decision. If you do not make specific arguments, they may be forfeited for your appeal and other post-conviction relief in the future.

The best criminal appeals lawyers in Albuquerque help you make arguments like:

  • You received ineffective assistance of counsel at the trial level
  • Your Constitutional rights were violated
  • There was prosecutorial misconduct
  • There was misconduct on the part of law enforcement
  • The trial court made an error

Call Harrison & Hart, LLC Today

The criminal appeals law firm of Harrison & Hart, LLC has extensive experience working with clients convicted at the trial court level. Our criminal appeals and post-conviction work is dynamic and considers all arguments possible. We develop strategic methods of targeting your conviction and work to get you released.

Call us today at (505) 295-3261 or use our online contact form to reach out.

How Do I Get Out of a Subpoena?

If you’ve been served a subpoena to testify in court, there are many reasons you might want to avoid it. Testifying in state or federal court does present risks, and you should avoid the chance of adverse consequences if possible.

However, you cannot just ignore the subpoena. If you do, you might face charges for contempt of court, a federal criminal offense. A knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer could help you get out of a subpoena.

What Is a Subpoena?

A subpoena is a legal document issued by a court order that requires action by the person named in that document. The term “subpoena” literally means “under penalty.” Failure to comply with a federal subpoena can lead to severe consequences, including incarceration and fines.

A subpoena generally requires a person to appear in court or at a legal proceeding. A person who is the subject of a subpoena must provide testimony about topics relevant to a specific case. You may also be issued a command to bring particular documents or evidence.

Protecting Your Interests after You’re Served

While you may want to protect yourself, you cannot ignore a subpoena.

However, you can still protect your interests if you’re served. There may be a legal reason that would allow you to avoid testifying or providing documents. A motion to quash the subpoena may get you out of testifying.


You have a constitutional right against self-incrimination. The court cannot force you to answer questions that might implicate you in a crime.

For example, if the subpoena wants you to testify about an incident that you were part of that may be considered illegal, you cannot be forced to testify about your involvement.


You may not have to reveal confidential information about a client, patient, or spouse if you have the legal privilege. For example, if a subpoena requests medical records and testimony about what a patient said to you, you may avoid it if the patient has not permitted you to talk about that topic.

While the court may still order you to comply with the subpoena, you have options to avoid it to prevent yourself from violating professional ethics codes and obligations.

Scheduling Conflicts

Your interests may be in other personal or professional activities scheduled at the same date or time listed in the subpoena. You can contact the party who issued the subpoena or the judge and try to reschedule.

If they don’t cooperate, you may need to contact your attorney or seek the court’s assistance. Any communication about rescheduling should be documented in writing to protect yourself.

Can You Get Out of a Subpoena?

There are ways you can get out of a subpoena. The grounds for challenging a subpoena include three categories: (1) service issues; (2) jurisdictional issues; and (3) scope issues.

Service Issues

A federal subpoena must be served appropriately. However, many federal agencies have adopted rules that allow a party to validly serve a subpoena in nearly any way possible.

For example, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) allows the service of a subpoena by mail, in person, to an office or residence, by fax, or to legal counsel.

Judicial subpoenas for court hearings are generally more limited. For example, in most federal court jurisdictions, civil and criminal cases require in-person service of a subpoena. This is true in most state cases as well.

If your subpoena was not properly served, you may not have to appear for it.

Jurisdictional Issues

If a court does not have jurisdiction over the matter in the subpoena or the person named in the document, then the subpoena may also be invalid.

A jurisdictional issue may offer you temporary relief from testifying or presenting documents; however, it is not likely to completely get you out of a subpoena. The agency or party will not likely give up on obtaining the information.

Scope Issues

If there are substantive issues with the subpoena itself, then you may challenge the scope of the information being sought. You must make assertive grounds for challenging the scope of a subpoena, which may include the following:

  • Topic is overly broad
  • Insufficient details about information requested
  • Undue burden on person named
  • Privileged information

Moving to Quash or Modify the Subpoena

If you want to challenge a subpoena, your attorney must file a motion to quash or modify the subpoena. A motion to quash will attempt to get out of the testimony completely. Modifying the subpoena may allow you to protect your interests by restricting what you have to say and present at the hearing.

Ignoring a Subpoena Can Bring Serious Penalties

Do not ever completely ignore a subpoena. If you do not show up at the date and time listed on the subpoena, the court may issue an order to appear. If you fail to appear, the court may issue a contempt order. In federal cases, contempt of court is a criminal charge that can result in fines and jail time.

Contact an Attorney for Help Responding to a Subpoena

If you receive a subpoena, you should immediately contact a lawyer to help you decide what your best steps are going forward. We will listen to the details of your situation and confidentially give you legal advice about what you should do.

If you want to get out of testifying or presenting documents, we can help you file a motion to quash.

Call Harrison & Hart, LLC at (505) 295-3261 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.

The Right Firm For Your Case

We’re ready to help you get your life back on track.

From our office in Albuquerque, Harrison & Hart, LLC serves clients throughout New Mexico. We are focused on getting you the best outcome possible in the harshest of situations.

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