Federal Grand Jury Subpoenas
Receiving a federal grand jury subpoena is a disquieting moment. You must treat it with the utmost seriousness. There are two reasons you may be served:
- You are the focus of an investigation and potentially face criminal charges at the federal level.
- Federal prosecutors are convinced you possess information that may be used against another party who is facing charges and you are being called to serve as a witness.
You may not know whether you are being called as a subject of the investigation or a witness. The agent serving the subpoena is not required to disclose this information. If you are the focus of the investigation, you may be waiving important rights by speaking to an agent or a federal prosecutor regarding the subpoena.
In either case, you should retain an attorney with experience in representing individuals served with federal grand jury subpoenas. An experienced lawyer may be able to figure out your role and can help protect your rights throughout the grand jury process.
While you search for legal representation, we can offer some vital information on the federal grand jury process.
What kind of subpoena did you receive?
All federal grand jury subpoenas are not created equal. The difference between the three kinds of subpoenas is the information sought:
Verbal testimony. The federal grand jury requests your appearance and verbal testimony. You must prepare in advance. Working with your attorney, you can attempt to predict potential questions and thoroughly develop your answers in a manner that enables you to both comply with the grand jury and protect your rights.
Documents. The federal grand jury seeks documents and files, whether hard copy or electronic. Known as a subpoena duces tecum, this request requires you to protect and retain information related to the matter at hand.
Verbal testimony and documents. This grand jury subpoena is the most laborious and time-consuming. You must gather all relevant records and submit them in an appropriate manner while at the same time ensuring that you are thoroughly prepared to testify.
Are you required to comply with a grand jury subpoena?
The short answer is YES. You and your attorney may choose to challenge the subpoena, though you should be ready to comply sufficiently and thoroughly in the event your challenge does not succeed.
You may attempt a challenge if you do not have the information requested by the subpoena, the information is not relevant, the subpoena is excessively broad or intrusive, or it is procedurally problematic.
Challenges to a grand jury subpoena are best left to your attorney, who will engage in legal wrangling with the prosecutor or file an attempt to quell the subpoena.
What if you do not respond adequately or fail to respond at all?
Ignoring a subpoena from a federal grand jury is not an option, at least not one that comes without significant legal repercussions.
A half-hearted attempt at document production, failure to comply, or failure to appear may lead to federal contempt charges. You may face charges whether you are the subject of the investigation or a witness.
As labor-intensive, time-consuming, and nerve-wracking as the process can be, you should work with your attorney to prepare and comply to the best of your ability while still protecting your rights.
Will your attorney represent you during grand jury testimony?
You may be shocked to find out that, under federal law, you are not granted legal representation while you testify in front of the grand jury. Your attorney will be forced to sit outside while you testify. We cannot emphasize enough how critical it is for you to work with your attorney in advance to ensure your sufficient preparation.
Does attorney-client privilege apply in light of the grand jury subpoena?
You absolutely maintain this critical right whether you are turning over documents or providing verbal testimony. The federal prosecutor cannot force you to reveal protected communications with your lawyer, no matter how relevant they may be to the case at hand.
A complete, advance evaluation of your testimony and any files you intend to produce will keep you from disclosing privileged information that will put you at risk.
What happens next?
You have collaborated with your attorney to successfully respond to the grand jury subpoena through verbal testimony, submission of documents, or a combination of the two.
Once grand jury proceedings are complete, the group of 16 to 23 jurors will deliberate. If they determine the testimony and evidence presented was sufficient to move forward, the court will sanction formal charges and the case will go to trial. If the jurors determine the evidence was not sufficient, there will be no criminal plea or charges filed.
As you can see, you must take any federal grand jury subpoena seriously. The proceedings are quite complex. You will benefit from having a qualified grand jury subpoena attorney by your side at all phases of the investigation.
Contact Tache Bronis
Serving Miami and South Florida, the dedicated team at Tache Bronis practices in the areas of health care, civil litigation, and white-collar criminal defense. We take on your legal problems so you don’t have to worry.
Our clients are our priority. If you received a federal grand jury subpoena, contact us at 305-537-9565 to discuss your next steps. We will stand by you throughout the grand jury process.
Disclaimer: The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.
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