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Federal Grand Jury Subpoena

July 7, 2020 Federal Criminal Attorneys

Am I Required to Talk to a Federal Grand Jury?

If you are in receipt of a federal grand jury subpoena, you more than likely have a multitude of questions and concerns about what will happen next. Fear not—this is a common reaction. The legal process can be convoluted and tricky to navigate without a seasoned federal attorney on your side who is well versed in the law. If you have been ordered to appear before a federal grand jury, you should definitely contact a defense lawyer who has experience in this area as soon as possible. He or she will usher you through the beginning phase of your matter and answer any questions you will probably need to ask about the process and what is required of you. Enlisting the help of a professional will bring you one step closer to locking down your desired case outcome.  A good lawyer could even help you avoid criminal charges altogether. 

The Federal Grand Jury Explained

A federal grand jury is made up of 16-23 jurors who are responsible for looking at evidence and coming to the conclusion of whether or not to bring criminal charges against a potential defendant. The grand jury has the power to subpoena documents, physical evidence, and witnesses to testify. Everything that takes place in a federal grand jury remains a secret, for the purpose of protecting the reputation of the potential defendant in the event that the jury decides not to bring charges against him or her. No judge is present in the proceeding and no lawyers are allowed to be in the room. Attorneys may, nevertheless, liaise with the potential defendant outside the room to consult the accused and prepare him or her for possible questions.

If you received a subpoena to testify before a grand jury, you should contact a lawyer as quickly as possible. 

What Are My Rights in a Criminal Federal Grand Jury?

If you got a subpoenaed and you have evidence that is relevant to the case, you are legally obligated to present the evidence to the federal grand jury. They have the authority to examine all of the evidence in order to render a just decision about whether or not to charge the potential defendant with a crime. That said, under some circumstances, you may not be obligated to speak. If ,for example, in answering one of their questions truthfully, could potentially incriminate yourself, you do not have to respond.  In such a situation, the Fifth Amendment applies with regards to your right to avoid self-incrimination. You cannot be penalized in any fashion for option to remain silent. Your lawyer will work alongside you and help you through the complexities that may come up in your case. Should you have any questions about what information you’re required to give up to the federal grand jury, contact an attorney before the date of your appearance.

Representation for Federal Grand Jury Subpoenas

Due to the fact that defense attorneys are not allowed to be in the room with the federal grand jury, many people are of the belief that they do not need a lawyer or that a lawyer cannot assist them in this situation. This, however, could not be further from the truth.  Retaining a skilled attorney throughout the process could potentially protect you from the possibilities of wrongful criminal charges and harsh potential punishment. The earlier you bring a top-tier defense attorney into the matter, the better your chances are of wining the best available outcome down the line.

Some Things You May Experience in the Beginning of a Government Investigation

Due to the reality that every federal criminal case is unique, every government investigation is handled differently. In the course of the investigation process, friends and family may be approached and questioned, agents may turn up at your front door, you may get a target letter in the mail, or agents may come to your home with a search warrant. If you have reason to believe that you are a government investigation, get in touch with an attorney who specializes in federal criminal defense as soon as you can. Your lawyer will advise you of the best steps to take in a government investigation to help you avoid self-incrimination, and get you on your way to achieving the best outcome possible.

Oftentimes, federal agents will aggressively pose questions throughout the investigative process in an effort to gather evidence against you. According to the Fifth Amendment, you have the right to remain silent.  You should exercise this right especially if they ask you questions about your involvement in a crime.  In fact, you should always reach out to your lawyer before saying or doing anything else in relation to your case. Your defense attorney will help you to better  understand the process and your legal rights, protecting you throughout every stage of the investigation.

How to Get Access to the Evidence Against You In a Government Investigation

If you are under investigation for a federal offense, but have not yet been charged, you are normally prohibited from viewing the evidence against you. It may be possible for your attorney to get you early access to the evidence, but that relies upon the unique details of your matter. Your lawyer can reach out to the federal prosecutor and attempt to grant you access to government’s evidence against you, if it will assist in your defense. Often, such requests are only granted if the person who is being investigated is interested in working out a plea.  Further down the line, during discovery, your lawyer will get access to the prosecution’s case, and can then share with you additional information about the charges you are looking at. Speak with your attorney to get more information about the options available during the investigative phase of your case.

Wiretap: Is the Federal Government Tapping My Phone?

On an occasion when federal agents show up at your front door for the purpose of an ongoing investigation, they often already know quite a bit about you and your case. They may have already  looked through your bank statements, or even read through your emails. This normally comes as a shock to defendants.  This situation may leave you wondering if the government has been tapping your phone or if they will start to do so for their investigation. Wiretaps are serious business. A wiretap can often feel like a complete invasion of privacy. If you’re under federal investigation and you suspect that the government is listening in on your phone calls, you should reach out to an experienced federal attorney as quickly as possible. Your lawyer can help you figure out the best course of action.  He or she will also begin building a strong defense to help you avoid a criminal conviction. The quicker you get connected with legal representation, the better your chances are of getting the best available outcome. 

How Do Wiretaps Work in Federal Criminal Cases?

The fact is that federal agents cannot legally tap your phone whenever they want to. On the contrary, they have to follow stringent guidelines and undergo a particular process to obtain approval to tap your phone. The government can employ the tactic of wiretapping in certain cases.  Some such sitautions include cases involving terrorism crimes, drug dealing, counterfeiting, misuse of passports, and aircraft parts fraud , for example. The prosecutor with the Department of Justice has to put in a written request with a federal judge before federal investigators can tap your phones. The request must include a detailed description of who is going to be wiretapped and other specific information about the tap. The wiretap can go on for no more than 30 days at a stretch, and requires the prosecutor to file a fresh request with a federal judge if they want to carry on listening in on your phone calls. The judge may opt to order reports of the information being uncovered from the wiretap and updates as the investigation progresses.

Because carrying out a wiretap is such a complicated endeavor, they are not as common as most people may think. A prosecutor has to invest many hours to follow the procedures that make a wiretap possible. He or she will also customarily need approval from the Department of Justice to simply file the request. The drafting of an order that explains why a wiretap is necessary also takes a great deal of time and energy. All of these factors make it unlikely that you will be wiretapped. Nevertheless, to ensure your legal rights are upheld, it is helpful to hire a skilled defense attorney. He or she will fight for you aggressively, giving you a fair shot at justice.

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