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What to Do if You’ve Been Subpoenaed to a Federal Grand Jury

March 21, 2024

What to Do if You’ve Been Subpoenaed to a Federal Grand Jury

Getting a subpoena to appear before a federal grand jury can be intimidating. Most people have never been involved with the legal system before, so they don’t know what to expect or what their rights are. This article will walk you through the basics of federal grand juries and give you practical tips for responding to a subpoena.

What is a federal grand jury?

A federal grand jury is a group of 16-23 citizens who decide whether there is probable cause to believe a crime has been committed and to charge someone with that crime[2]. They hear evidence presented only by federal prosecutors — no judge is present and there is no defense lawyer in the room. Grand juries operate in secrecy, so what is said before them remains confidential[5].

If the grand jury decides there is probable cause, they will return an indictment charging the person with a federal crime. An indictment is just a formal accusation — it does not mean the person is guilty. The case will then move forward to trial, where guilt or innocence is determined[4].

Why did I get a subpoena?

There are a few possibilities:

  • You may be a witness — someone with information relevant to the investigation
  • You may be a subject — someone under investigation who may have committed a crime
  • You may be a target — someone who prosecutors have substantial evidence against and who they intend to indict[1]

The subpoena itself usually doesn’t say why you’ve been called to testify. Don’t panic yet — being subpoenaed doesn’t mean you’ll be indicted. But you should take it seriously and get legal help.

Get a lawyer

The most important thing to do is get advice from an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer. Do not go before the grand jury without a lawyer! Only a lawyer can fully protect your rights and interests in this process[5].

A lawyer can:

Christine Twomey
Christine Twomey
2024-03-21
Just had my Divorce case settled 2 months ago after having a horrible experience with another firm. I couldn’t be happier with Claire Banks and Elizabeth Garvey with their outstanding professionalism in doing so with Spodek Law Group. Any time I needed questions answered they were always prompt in doing so with all my uncertainties after 30 yrs of marriage.I feel from the bottom of my heart you will NOT be disappointed with either one. Thanks a million.
Brendan huisman
Brendan huisman
2024-03-18
Alex Zhik contacted me almost immediately when I reached out to Spodek for a consultation and was able to effectively communicate the path forward/consequences of my legal issue. I immediately agreed to hire Alex for his services and did not regret my choice. He was able to cover my case in court (with 1 day notice) and not only was he able to push my case down, he carefully negotiated a dismissal of the charge altogether. I highly recommend Spodek, and more specifically, Alex Zhik for all of your legal issues. Thanks guys!
Guerline Menard
Guerline Menard
2024-03-18
Thanks again Spodek law firm, particularly Esq Claire Banks who stood right there with us up to the finish line. Attached photos taken right outside of the court building and the smile on our faces represented victory, a breath of fresh air and satisfaction. We are very happy that this is over and we can move on with our lives. Thanks Spodek law 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙌🏼❤️
Keisha Parris
Keisha Parris
2024-03-15
Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
Taïko Beauty
Taïko Beauty
2024-03-15
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence. Thank you team!
Anthony Williams
Anthony Williams
2024-03-12
Hey, how you guys doing? Good afternoon my name is Anthony Williams I just want to give a great shout out to the team of. Spodek law group. It is such a honor to use them and to use their assistance through this whole case from start to finish. They did everything that they said they was gonna do and if it ever comes down to it, if I ever have to use them again, hands-down they will be the first law office at the top of my list, thank you guys so much. It was a pleasure having you guys by my side so if you guys ever need them, do not hesitate to pick up the phone and give them a call.
Loveth Okpedo
Loveth Okpedo
2024-03-12
Very professional, very transparent, over all a great experience
Bee L
Bee L
2024-02-28
Amazing experience with Spodek! Very professional lawyers who take your case seriously. They treated me with respect, were always available, and answered any and all questions. They were able to help me very successfully and removed a huge stress. Highly recommend.
divesh patel
divesh patel
2024-02-24
I can't recommend Alex Zhik and Spodek Law Firm highly enough for their exceptional legal representation and personal mentorship. From the moment I engaged their services in October 2022, Alex took the time to understand my case thoroughly and provided guidance every step of the way. Alex's dedication to my case went above and beyond my expectations. His expertise, attention to detail, and commitment to achieving the best possible outcome were evident throughout the entire process. He took the time to mentor me, ensuring I understood the legal complexities involved to make informed decisions. Alex is the kind of guy you would want to have a beer with and has made a meaningful impact on me. I also want to acknowledge Todd Spodek, the leader of the firm, who played a crucial role in my case. His leadership and support bolstered the efforts of Alex, and his involvement highlighted the firm's commitment to excellence. Thanks to Alex Zhik and Todd Spodek, I achieved the outcome I desired, and I am incredibly grateful for their professionalism, expertise, and genuine care. If you're in need of legal representation, look no further than this outstanding team.
  • Negotiate with the prosecutor about the scope of testimony
  • Go with you to the grand jury session
  • Assert your Fifth Amendment right not to answer questions that could incriminate you
  • Object to improper questions
  • Ensure you don’t accidentally commit perjury

Don’t wait – call a lawyer as soon as you get the subpoena! The earlier a lawyer gets involved, the more they can do to protect you[4].

Understand what will happen

Testifying before a grand jury can be intimidating since the process is unfamiliar. Knowing what to expect can help you feel more confident. Here are the basics:

  • You will be brought into the grand jury room where up to 23 jurors will be sitting. Only the prosecutor will question you — no judge or defense lawyer will be present.
  • The prosecutor will begin by asking you to state your name and background information like your address and occupation.
  • The questioning will start broad, but the prosecutor may become more confrontational or skeptical.
  • You can refuse to answer any question by asserting your Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate yourself. Your lawyer will help you decide when to invoke this right.
  • The entire session is recorded by a court reporter, except when the jury deliberates and votes on an indictment.
  • You cannot discuss what happened in the grand jury with anyone, even your lawyer. Grand jury secrecy rules prohibit this.

While the experience may feel strange, remember you have important constitutional rights. Your lawyer is there to stand up for you if the prosecutor crosses a line[5].

Follow your lawyer’s advice

Listen carefully to your lawyer’s advice about testifying. They may recommend that you:

  • Assert your Fifth Amendment right and refuse to answer questions. You have a constitutional right not to provide testimony that could implicate you in a crime.
  • Answer limited questions about basic facts that will not incriminate you. This shows cooperation without jeopardizing your rights.
  • Testify fully because you have nothing to hide or your testimony may exonerate you.

Your lawyer knows your unique situation best and will guide you on the right approach. Following their advice is critical to protecting yourself[5].

Tell the truth

If you decide to testify, it is absolutely essential that you tell the complete truth. Here’s why:

  • Lying under oath – even about small details – is the crime of perjury, punishable by years in prison.
  • The prosecutor likely has more evidence than you realize, and lying will be discovered.
  • Admitting mistakes looks better than covering them up.
  • Honesty builds credibility with the grand jury and prosecutor.

Stick to what you definitely know – don’t speculate. Answer only the question asked, don’t volunteer extra information. Your lawyer will object if the prosecutor asks improper questions[4].

Don’t talk to others about your testimony

Grand jury proceedings are secret, and witnesses are prohibited from disclosing their testimony to anyone. That includes talking to:

  • Friends and family (even your spouse)
  • Work colleagues
  • The media

Violating grand jury secrecy can lead to being charged with obstruction of justice. So keep quiet – don’t even tell others you’ve testified. Let your lawyer handle all the talking[2].

Wait for next steps

After you testify, the grand jury may or may not choose to indict you or others involved in the case. If no indictment is returned, the investigation may continue and you could potentially be called to testify again. Your lawyer will advise you if that happens. If you are indicted, the case will move forward to trial[4].

Waiting for the outcome can be stressful. Rely on your lawyer’s counsel during this uncertain period. They can explain possible next steps and prepare your defense strategy.

Conclusion

Being subpoenaed by a federal grand jury is unsettling, but understanding the process and having an experienced lawyer on your side can give you confidence. Get legal help right away, follow your lawyer’s advice closely, and be truthful in your testimony. Handled properly, being called before a grand jury does not have to be a terrifying experience.

References

  1. https://federal-lawyer.com/criminal-law/grand-jury-subpoena/
  2. https://www.justice.gov/jm/jm-9-11000-grand-jury
  3. https://weaverjohnston.com/responding-to-a-federal-grand-jury-subpoena/
  4. https://www.lilesparker.com/responding-to-a-federal-grand-jury-subpoena/
  5. https://www.natlawreview.com/article/you-received-grand-jury-subpoena-what-now
  6. https://prisonprofessors.com/grand-jury-subpoenas-10-tips/

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