If you receive a subpoena to appear before a federal grand jury, it’s likely for one of two reasons:
- The prosecutor believes that you have information about a white-collar crime committed by a third party, and needs your testimony to help secure an indictment.
- You are the target of a government investigation and this is another step to obtain evidence against you.
When you are called to testify before a grand jury, no one warns you that you are the subject of a criminal investigation. There are no Miranda-style cautions and unless you have been granted immunity (for example, in exchange for helping to build the government’s case against a third party), anything you say may be used against you in a future prosecution.
What should you do?
Upon receipt of the subpoena, call your white-collar defense attorney or hire one. You need to acknowledge the document and appear as directed, or you risk being held in contempt of court and subjected to fines or a jail term.
It is crucial that you work with an attorney who is experienced in defending white-collar crime. They will review the subpoena and any files you have been requested to bring to determine what it is that the grand jury may be investigating. They will also seek information by approaching the federal prosecutor and even the attorneys representing others who have been subpoenaed. All of these steps put them in the best position to assess the situation and create a defense strategy.
For example, an experienced attorney may be able to persuade the prosecutor that there isn’t sufficient evidence to indict you, or that your cooperation will serve the government purpose much more than an indictment.
Grand jury testimony
Your attorney will not be permitted to accompany you into the grand jury room. The proceedings are closed, and witnesses do not have the right to legal representation throughout the duration. Your lawyer may remain in an adjacent hallway, and you are allowed to leave the room to confer with him or her as needed. If you are asked a question and are unsure about how to answer in a way that is not incriminating, say something like, “I would like to consult with my attorney before I answer that question.”
If you’re appearing before a grand jury – even as a witness – it’s critical that you have an experienced defense attorney on your team. Please contact us today to learn more!