What Are My Rights When Subpoenaed Before a Grand Jury?
Grand jury subpoenas are just one of the tools the prosecution can use to carry out grand jury investigations. When you receive a federal grand jury subpoena, it can mean either of these three things either you, someone you know, or someone you are associated with is considered a person of interest in a federal investigation. These subpoenas are usually issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and are either used to start off a criminal case, find evidence or figure out if there is probable cause for the target to be indicated.
So What Type Of Grand Jury Subpoenas Can You Receive?
A subpoena duces tecum – This orders a person to bring in certain physical items that are indicated in the subpoena, to serve as evidence in the case the prosecution is investigating. It can include things like physical documents to identification evidence such as fingerprints.
A subpoena ad testificandum – This orders a person to appear in court and testify before the grand jury on a specific day and date.
Both these subpoenas do not require that the defendant have probable cause, which is what makes them such great investigative tools. Plus, anyone who is issued a grand jury subpoena is expected to respond. Thus, choosing to ignore a grand jury subpoena can cause the court to hold you in contempt, which can possibly lead to jail time or fines.
Therefore, considering that you must comply with your grand jury subpoenas, it can be very scary getting one. However, understanding the rights you are entitled to when summoned before a grand jury can help you be better prepared for your response.
What Are My Rights?
The Right To Counsel – Not only do you have the right to counsel when summoned, we highly advise you exercise it. Regardless of whether you are the subject, target, or witness, hiring an attorney is always a good idea, even for something that may seem as harmless as a subpoena.
An attorney can help you open the channels of communication with the U.S. attorney’s office that can help you gain more productive information about the case you are being subpoenaed for. They can also help you figure out and understand your culpability and just how much trouble you could be in.
Moreover, in most states, the lawyer is allowed to be present in the room when their client appears before the grand jury, as long as they limit their comments to advice only and do not interfere with the testifying process. This is the case in approximately 20 states in the nation.
In states where the lawyer is not allowed in the room, they are still offered the opportunity to stand outside the room as their client appears before the grand jury. The witness is allowed to stop the testimony process at any time they wish to go outside and consult with their attorney about any questions they have been asked. While this process may be slightly disruptive, it is well within the witness’ right to exercise it.
The Right Against Self Incrimination – The 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects an individual from being pressured into incriminating themselves. Anyone summoned before a grand jury can use this right to prevent them from saying something self-incriminating when they appear before the grand jury.
However, most prosecutors usually try to get ahead of this by providing the summoned individual an immunity grant. This immunity grant protects the witness from any subsequent criminal prosecution for any testimonies they make before the grand jury. This simply means that whatever they say will not be used against them.
However, you should know that the prosecution can still pursue charges if they can get enough evidence to convict the witness that is independent of the testimony given before the grand jury.
The Right to Retain Confidential Information – Certain relationships such as spouses, doctors and their patients, and attorneys and their clients are protected by confidentiality privilege. In such a situation, the witness can exercise their right to maintain privilege and refuse to share any confidential information.
Contact a Qualified Attorney Immediately
If you have received a grand jury subpoena, we advise you to contact an attorney from our firm first. We help you get more information and find the best way you can navigate and handle your summon.
Need an Attorney? CALL NOW: 310-274-6529
Seppi Esfandi is an Expert Attorney who has over 21 years of practice defending a variety of cases.