30 Aug 23

Do You Have a Right to a Lawyer If You Are Testifying Before a Grand Jury?

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Last Updated on: 30th August 2023, 06:56 pm

When you’re getting hauled in front of a grand jury – it can be very intimidating. Everything will feel really official and serious – and you won’t know what to do. You enter into the courthouse, surrounded by jurors, prosecutors, stenographers and you don’t even know where to sit. It’s only natural to wonder – can I bring a lawyer with me to the grand jury? Do I have a right to an attorney – if I’m testifying before a grand jury? This is an important question and everyone wonders what the answer to this is.

The short answer is NO, you don’t have a constitutional right to have an attorney with you in the grand jury room. If you’re called into testify before a grand jury – you should first consult with a federal defense attorney at the Spodek Law Group.

Many people wonder – doesn’t the Sixth Amendment give you the right to legal counsel? Well yes, it does. But the Supreme Court has ruled that this constitutional right – specifically only applies to the criminal trial itself. The grand jury stage is considered a pre-trial investigative stage, and thus – this right doesn’t apply, because you haven’t been charged yet formally as a criminal.

What this means – is at this stage the prosecutors get to speak to you without your lawyer there to object. On the bright side, you can leave to confer with your attorney whose outside the courtroom if you need a break. But otherwise, you’re dealing with the questioning alone. There is no lawyer there to help you answer any trick questions.

Federal attorneys don’t love this setup. Many federal lawyers argue that having a lawyer present in the grand jury room, would discourage bullying or sneaky tactics by prosecutors. But the courts do not agree. As far as they’re concerned, the grand jury isn’t a mini-trial. There’s no adversary in the courtroom with you, just jurors deciding if charges make sense.

Sometimes judges will allow a lawyer in the room if things seem unfair. For example if the prosecutor is going after you extra hard. But there’s no guaranteed right to have an attorney in the room with you. In virtually all cases, your lawyer can prep you beforehand. But once you’re sworn in, you’re on your own facing the jury.