If you’ve received a subpoena demanding your presence at a grand jury, you might be scared or anxious. This post will explain what is happening, what it means for you, and what you should do.
What is a grand jury?
A grand jury is not the type of jury you typically see on television. This jury convenes before charges are filed. This jury is called to determine whether to bring an indictment against an individual (or several) for particular conduct the prosecutors (District Attorney, United States Attorney) believe may constitute a crime.
What is a subpoena?
A subpoena is a document requiring one’s presence at a proceeding. You are required to show up at the date, time, and location specified on the subpoena.
Why did I receive a subpoena to testify before the grand jury?
You received a subpoena for one of two reasons:
1) The prosecutor believes you may have been a witness to a crime.
2) The prosecutor believes you may have committed a crime.
What rights do I have?
As a witness in a grand jury proceeding, your rights are different than those of a criminal defendant pending trial. However, you do have a very important right, which is your 5th amendment right agains self-incrimination.
Right against self-incrimination
Whether you are testifying as a witness to a crime or as a target of an investigation, you always maintain your right against self incrimination. That means if you believe you may have done something illegal, no matter how small, you can assert your fifth amendment rights, but only regarding that specific conduct.
Right to an attorney
This right is limited. If you have an attorney, that attorney can attend the proceeding with you, but they are not entitled to be in the room where you are testifying. They may have to wait outside, but you can talk to them when you have a question about incriminating yourself.
If you’ve been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury, contact an attorney immediately to discuss your options. Click here to schedule a call with us.