Grand Jury Subpoenas & Investigations
If you’ve received a grand jury subpoena to testify or provide documents to the grand jury, your response to the subpoena can be critical to your freedom. It is important to consult with a white collar defense attorney with experience in grand jury subpoenas as soon as possible and BEFORE talking to any law enforcement or prosecutors.
Grand jury subpoenas are used by prosecutors to build cases that are still being investigating by a grand jury. There are three ways in which you could receive a grand jury subpoena: 1) As a target; 2) As a Subject; or 3) As a Witness.
The Government, through the U.S. Attorney’s Office, or the State, through the District Attorney’s office or the State Attorney General’s office, decides who is a target, who is a subject, and who is a witness in an investigation. They also generally tell you which category you fall under when they send you a subpoena.
The grand jury is a process by which prosecutors present evidence to citizens, outside of the presence of criminal defense attorneys and even judges, to decide whether or not to charge someone with a crime. Given the heavy influence that prosecutors have over the grand jury and the power of a grand jury’s decision, responding to a grand jury letter or subpoena the right way is critical.
What Does it Mean to be a Target?
If you’ve received a letter and/or a grand jury subpoena that says you’re a “target,” it means you will likely be indicted. According to the United States Attorney’s Manual, a target “is a person as to whom the prosecutor or the grand jury has substantial evidence linking him or her to the commission of a crime and who, in the judgment of the prosecutor, is a putative defendant.” In most cases, you will not want to testify to the grand jury.
I received a letter that says I’m the “Subject” of a Grand Jury Investigation, what does that mean?
If you’ve been named a “Subject” in a Grand Jury Subpoena or Letter, then you are somewhere in between a target and simply a witness – in other words, the prosecutor has not made up its mind yet on whether they want to charge you. That means deciding how and when to respond to a grand jury subpoena is critical. You will want to convince the Government that you did not commit any crimes. But you also need to be careful about the Government using your statements and responses against you should they decide to later charge you.
I Got a Grand Jury Subpoena as a Witness - am I in trouble?
Generally, no. If you received a grand jury subpoena or letter as a witness, then the prosecution thinks you have helpful information to their investigation but that you personally are not implicated in any wrongdoing. The exception to that is if you lie to the grand jury or obstruct the investigation in any way.
What kind of Attorney Should I Hire for a Grand Jury Subpoena? Do I need an Attorney if I’m just a Witness?
If you’ve received any kind of notice of an investigation or grand jury proceeding, you need to consult with an experienced grand jury subpoena attorney immediately. How and when you respond to such a notice could have grave consequences for you.