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Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 102506
Experience:  Licensed attorney in private practice.
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My sister received a grand jury subpoena duces tecum that was sent to her ISP provider, wh

Customer Question

My sister received a grand jury subpoena duces tecum that was sent to her ISP provider, who is in VA,the subpoena say's its reguarding to a criminal investigation, My sister states she does not know what this is about, she just pay's the ISP provider and does not live at the location.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Expert:  Ely replied 2 years ago.
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Who does live at this location? Is it someone she rents to? Or a friend of hers, etc? Why is the service in her name, then?
This is not an answer, but an Information Request. I need this information to answer your question. Please reply, so I can answer your question. Thank you in advance.
Expert:  Ely replied 2 years ago.
You have yet to reply, and I have to go offline, so I will send an answer based on the information I do have. Feel free to reply with any more questions, of course.
In both criminal and civil situations, the prosecutor (criminal) or Plaintiff (in a civil) situation may subpoena the ISP for information of an individual who they have flagged for illicit content online. With criminal, this can be unlawful images, terrorism, etc. With civil, this may be theft of intellectual property such as downloading of movies.
The ISP receives this subpoena and then sends notice to the actual person on the bill (who happens to be your sister), stating that she has a little time to file a motion to quash, or, the ISP will simply give the information as requested.
A motion to quash allows a third party (i.e like your sister) to file to quash the subpoena. I am not sure whether this is on a state or federal level, but generally, the motion to quash seeks to quash the content based on (a) not pertinent information, (b) inconvenience to party, or (c) harassment.
I will not lie - most ISP motion to quash subpoenas fail. She can of course still try to file one. There is a practical catch 22 there, however. If she files herself, she has to file as a "John/Jane Doe," and has to have an attorney show up for her. Otherwise, she will out her identity the moment she steps into the courtroom for the hearing ON THE MOTION.
The good thing is that if she is NOT living there, then likely, she personally will not be held liable as long as she can show that she is not the one that was doing whatever it was the Plaintiff or Prosecutor are pursuing. So her best defense may be not "motion to quash," but, "It is under my name, but I do not live here - here is who does and talk to them."
Naturally, I would use counsel for ANY exchange of information and discussion with the opposing party.
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