A grand jury subpoena is often the second (or an early) step in the federal criminal justice process. A grand jury subpoena is a formal document that orders a named individual to appear before the Court at a certain time and date to give testimony (subpoena “ad testificandum”) and/or produce documents relevant to the investigation (subpoena “duces tecum”). Usually these individuals are either: (a) a witness to illegal activity; or (b) a suspect (target or subject) in an investigation.
Once you are served with a Subpoena…
Please keep in mind that you cannot refuse a subpoena or just “blow it off.” You are legally required to appear or respond, and if you do not, you will be held in contempt of court. You should immediately contact a federal criminal defense attorney once you are subpoenaed. They will help you devise a strategic plan to respond. Possible responses include: (1) filing a motion to quash the subpoena, if you have grounds to invalidate your subpoena; (2) telling the prosecutor (preferably, through your lawyer) that you intend to assert a Fifth Amendment privilege against testifying, in which case the prosecutor may or may not require you to appear before the grand jury; or (3) narrowing (through your lawyer’s negotiations with the prosecutor) and/or complying with the subpoena. After reviewing your subpoena, your attorney will advise you of your best option. A good attorney will use the opportunity to build a productive working relationship with the prosecutor that will yield benefits down the road. And, a qualified attorney will protect you from unforeseen dangers during the complicated and counter-intuitive grand jury process. It is almost never a good idea to respond to a subpoena without legal counsel, even if you are just producing documents, and even if you believe you are innocent and can explain the situation.
If the Grand Jury Subpoena requires you to submit documents…
This type of subpoena is known as a subpoena duces tecum. If the government thinks you have documents in your possession that may be relevant to their investigation, they will ask you to produce the documents. An experienced lawyer can streamline the document production process, protect your rights, and identify risk.
It is important to note that experienced criminal defense attorneys have special skills when it comes to responding to subpoenas. They will not advise you to fold under the pressure of the government. The goal of their strategy is to reduce or eliminate your exposure. However, all responses to grand jury subpoenas (whether you are testifying, submitting documents, or both) should be answered truthfully, carefully, and to the best of your knowledge.
If you have any questions regarding grand jury subpoenas, you can always contact us!
Stay tuned for next week!
Best for now,