Being summoned to testify before a Grand Jury can be an anxiety-inducing proposition. From the compiling of documents to questioning witnesses, a federal grand jury has a lot of leeway so long as it respects the constitutional and testimonial privileges afforded by the constitution.
This quarter, renowned Miami criminal defense attorney Chad Piotrowski of Piotrowski Law discusses federal grand jury subpoenas, what to expect and tips on preparing if served.
Federal Grand Jury
Comprised of no more than 23 members, 16 of which must be physically present, a federal grand jury is a special type of jury formed to determine whether or not a defendant should be indicted. Under the direct supervision of a federal prosecutor, this jury carefully evaluates evidence and documents in order to determine if there exists ‘probable cause’ that a crime was committed.
Federal Grand Jury Subpoena
According to Chad Piotrowski, a federal grand jury subpoena is a legal demand for documents by a grand jury. This subpoena is drafted by the prosecutor but requested by the grand jury. These grand juries generally form for a period of 18 months and meet at determined intervals.
Federal Grand Jury Indictments
Piotrowski explains that federal grand juries rarely ever fail to return an indictment. In fact, there is even a famous legal quote made by Judge Sol Wachtler that states any prosecutor can get a grand jury to “indict a ham sandwich”.
The Risks of Providing Documents
Although compliance is generally unavoidable, Piotrowski warns of the risks associated with providing documents to a grand jury. He further explains that no one should face a grand jury alone and that an experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to walk them through the process, ensuring they don’t inadvertently provide information that could be detrimental to a potential pending charge against them.
Navigating a Grand Jury with The Help of a Criminal Defense Attorney
According to Piotrowski, there are some things those facing a grand jury can do to properly prepare and protect their rights; first and foremost, hiring a talented criminal defense attorney in Miami.
He offers the following advice:
1. Have An Attorney Standing By
A defense attorney is not allowed in the room with a defendant and the grand jury. However, Piotrowski informs that they can be right outside the door and that the individual being questioned has the right to consult with their attorney prior to answering each question posed.
2. Be Leary of “pre-grand jury interviews”
Chad stresses that no individual is under any obligation to speak with any governmental agencies prior to a grand jury process. However, that doesn’t prevent overzealous prosecutors from trying, sometimes demanding that the defendant be present for a ‘pre-grand jury interview’ two days before the actual grand jury session.
3. Insisting on Grand Jury Secrecy from the Government
Rule 6 – prohibits government agents from revealing any matter occurring before a grand jury, including that an individual appeared.
4. Avoid Testifying if It Will Increase Exposure
Always work with a criminal defense attorney to evaluate whether or not certain lines of questioning may expose a person to increased exposure or risk. In some situations, an individual may be advised to ‘plead the fifth’, preventing self-incrimination.
5. Practice with a Shadow Grand Jury (or a criminal defense attorney)
Piotrowski believes in planning and preparation, stating that those subpoenaed should know what to expect and how to answer relevant questions. To this end, practicing with a criminal defense attorney, or even a full shadow grand jury, is advisable.
About Piotrowski Law
Conveniently located in downtown Miami, Florida, Piotrowski Law is led by renowned criminal defense attorney Chad Piotrowski. A former Assistant State Attorney for Miami-Dade County, Piotrowski has leveraged his insider expertise and knowledge of local processes, along with his connections to establish and grow a respected law firm with a track record of vigorous client representation, advocacy and results.
Those who fear or have already been served with a subpoena are encouraged to reach out to Piotrowski Law by calling 305-783-3436 or reaching out via their official website for a no-cost initial consultation.
Company Name: Piotrowski Law
Contact Person: Chad Piotrowski
Email: Send Email
Address:169 E Flagler St #1600
Country: United States