This is a guide for anyone who has just received a subpoena from a federal grand jury. If you are reading this, you or someone you care about has recently received a subpoena for a federal grand jury. This is an extremely serious situation. We are, indeed, glad that you are already taking the first step to remaining safe and in control. A federal grand jury subpoena is a request for testimony or documents to be presented in a grand jury proceeding. This is different from a criminal trial.
A grand jury proceeding is comprised of grand jurors from the community who sit in a secret location. They are not open to the public and are not overseen by a judge. Further, the proceeding is conducted by the federal prosecutors who decide what witnesses and evidence are presented. This is in hopes that the grand jurors issue an indictment for criminal charges to be filed in federal criminal court.
When you receive the subpoena, the information in the subpoena is all you know. In order to keep yourself safe and progress in the way most beneficial to you, your business, or your loved ones, please follow the next three steps carefully.
Step 1: Do Not Respond to a Federal Grand Jury Subpoena Without First Seeking Legal Advice
When you receive a subpoena, open and read it, then stop. Do not take further action. Do not immediately respond to the request or prepare documents to submit. Don’t call the number on the subpoena or offer a statement. Even if you think you know what the subpoena is about and where you stand on the issues – it’s possible that you don’t.
A federal grand jury subpoena occurs when a federal criminal trial goes underway for investigation. Subpoenas are sent to both innocent witnesses and criminal targets, without telling them ahead of time who is who. You may be able to provide useful information to catch a criminal. However, you may also be on the list of targets or a “subject” where they are looking to prove your involvement in a crime. Do not offer any information until you know which.
Step 2: Hire a Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer Immediately
Next, don’t go it alone. Time is of the essence when you receive this type of subpoena – you will have a date set for your testimony or date you are to provide requested documents. This means you need to seek legal advice immediately to determine where you stand and how much information you should offer – or if you need to plead the 5th to avoid potential self-incrimination.
Seek an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer to advise you. It is important that you find someone who has experience specifically with federal grand jury cases. Federal court works differently and your best defense is someone who knows the system.
Step 3: Have Your Lawyer Find Out if You Are a Target or Witness
Finally, ask your lawyer to determine the purpose of the subpoena. Your response will depend on whether the government views you as a criminal target or an innocent witness. To do this, your attorney will contact the local federal justice courts and officials to determine what case your subpoena relates to, who is relevant to the case, and whether you are a target of the investigation.
Be careful. Sometimes, a lawyer is told “your client is not a target at this point in time”, which is a trap. “At this time” may mean that you are currently a “subject” (involved in the crime). Thus, they may be seeking to justify making you a target. If you turn over documents or give testimony that raises red flags, you could walk yourself into an indictment.
If you are a target, your attorney will then determine whether you need to plead the 5th, make a deal for immunity, or cooperate to prove your innocence.
Kenney Legal Defense for Federal Grand Jury Subpoena Consultation
If you are holding a federal subpoena, proceed swiftly but with caution. Kenney Legal Defense is highly experienced with federal cases and routinely represents clients and businesses who received federal grand jury subpoenas. Don’t let a subpoena walk you into a trap, contact us for a consultation and expert advice on how to protect yourself in the face of a federal grand jury trial.