A grand jury can play a significant role to investigate criminal cases including when the court opts to leverage its subpoena power. The prosecution usually keeps a tight rein on a grand jury, which is significantly one-sided, and the results usually go as expected.
Prosecutors can subpoena individuals to:
- Initiate a criminal case
- Find evidence
- Determine probable cause
If a court brings you before a grand jury through the subpoena process, understanding what your status is and what rights you are entitled to can make a significant difference in how you approach the summon.
What Are My Rights Before a Grand Jury?
No matter the reason why the prosecutor subpoenaed you, you have the right to an attorney. Your lawyer may be present in most state grand juries, but they cannot speak or interfere with the testifying process. In the case of a federal grand jury, your attorney has to wait outside of the room.
However, you can consult with your lawyer whether they are inside or outside the grand jury room. You have the right to take breaks to seek their advice.
Your rights when subpoenaed before a grand jury also include:
- Not answering any questions or submitting documents that might incriminate yourself
- Not disclosing confidential information based on specific relationships such as lawyer and client, spouses, or doctor and patient
- Requesting different dates or additional time for compliance
Although you benefit from several rights, you also have several obligations towards the grand jury. You must always appear before the court when required. Failure to do so can result in being held in criminal contempt.
You are not allowed to:
- Call witnesses on your behalf
- Obstruct the investigation
- Interfere with the grand jury process
- Lie, commit perjury, or provide false evidence
You generally have no immediate access to evidence that the grand jury has gathered, and you may not request to see them until the prosecution decides to allow you access.
Work with a Criminal Defense Lawyer to Understand Your Status
You should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as you receive the official notice subpoenaing you before a grand jury. They can help determine what your status is, i.e., how the prosecution views you, which helps you understand what position you find yourself in for this specific investigation.
The prosecutor can usually view you as one of the following:
- A witness who may have useful information about the investigation
- A subject who generally interests them and about whom they have high levels of suspicion
- A person of interest whom they may already be gathering evidence against
- A target that they are close to having enough proof to indict or charge with specific crimes
It is especially important to work with a reputable criminal defense lawyer if you are a subject, a person of interest, or a target. There is no guarantee that the prosecutor will share how they view you when you or your attorney request the information, but many are willing to give an honest answer. This is especially true if they have previous and positive experiences with your lawyer.
Your criminal defense attorney may recommend waiting before testifying if possible, so they may gather more details about the investigation, your status, or the prosecution’s goals. Legal advice can help you navigate the subpoena and grand jury processes. Reputable attorneys offer a comprehensive skill set that can support you, so you can appropriately comply without putting yourself at unnecessary risk.
If you need a high-quality criminal defense attorney in Boston, call Brad Bailey Law today at (617) 500-0252 or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation.