Can My Bank Records Be Subpoenaed Without My Knowledge?

can-my-bank-records-be-subpoenaed-without-my-knowledge
Can My Bank Records Be Subpoenaed Without My Knowledge?

In 2007 the Washington Supreme Court ruled that bank records should be kept private. This ruling was unanimous, meaning that every decision maker in the court agreed to this ruling.

Now that bank records are considered private. If the government or any other person tries to access your bank records, they will need a warrant or a subpoena.

Can-My-Bank-Records-Be-Subpoenaed-Without-My-Knowledge

This warrant or subpoena can be challenged in court before the searching body is given access to your bank account records.

Because you are allowed to challenge the need for a subpoena, you will be notified if someone is trying to gain access to your bank records.

State v. Miles

This decision happened due to the case of State v. Miles. In this case, the state believed Miles was committing fraud, and so they searched the person’s bank records without notifying Miles.

The state issued a subpoena as a request to gain access to all of Miles’ records, including their business and their personal information.

The state told the bank not to disclose the subpoena request to Miles. Eventually, Miles was convicted of fraud, but their lawyer made the argument that the information gathered was done unlawfully. 

The trial court disagreed with this statement; however, they did recognize the privacy issue with this secretive gathering of information. 

This was when the courts decided that, in the future, the process to receive bank records needs to be neutral. This means that a warrant or subpoena needs to notify the subject, as well as the bank, of the request for information.

This then gives the subject the ability to provide a reasonable explanation as to why searching their account isn’t acceptable.

Why Do Bank Accounts Need Privacy Laws?

Bank accounts can give someone tons of information about you.

Of course, there are the obvious details that can be seen in a bank account, like how much you earn on a monthly basis and where you live.

This information can be found by looking at your incoming money and the location of your spending. But there are also little details that can show more about who you are as a person.

Your bank account can show the reader what your political stance is due to the products that you buy and the companies that you buy from.

They can show the reader what type of recreational activities you enjoy. They can show the reader what religions you support or the charities you might be interested in.

This information does two things. It can create a subconscious bias against or for you. For example, if a Strong Republican saw bank details that clearly told them the subject was Strong Liberal, then this political divide will shape the reader’s idea of the subject.

And the second thing this information can do is learn to manipulate the subject.

Suppose the reader can see that the subject enjoys watching car races live because of the tickets the subject buys monthly.

In that case, they can suggest that the subject likes to take risks and they can use that information to understand the subjects psychologically.

In general, this private information can show the details, personalities, and ideologies of the subject. Bank details contain the heart of a person’s private affairs. This is why they should be and are protected.

What is a Subpoena?

Subpoena is pronounced “Suh-Pee-Nuh” and is either the request for documents or the request for a person to appear in a legal proceeding, like a court.

Although the word “request” is used, a subpoena is not a suggestion; it is a court ordered command. 

Can-My-Bank-Records-Be-Subpoenaed-Without-My-Knowledge

The reason to appear in court is often to give information, like testifying to an account or presenting information that could bring clarity to a case. 

If you do not reply or comply with the subpoena, you will be subject to the terms presented to you. These terms may be fines or jail time. 

You should not ignore a subpoena, as doing so is considered contempt of court. When it comes to bank records, you will be given a time scale to contest the use of your bank details.

If you ignore this time scale and fail to respond at all, your bank records will be used in court, but you will also be viewed negatively in your court proceeding. 

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