PURPOSE OF THE INVESTIGATION
A grand jury may consist of 12 to 23 people. It hears evidence presented by a government attorney regarding the commission of an offense, or offenses. Typically, no evidence is presented from a defense attorney. Upon hearing the evidence from the government attorney, the grand jury then decides if there is probable cause to believe a suspect committed the crime in question. If the jury finds probable cause, it then returns a written statement of the charges. This is called an “indictment.”
These investigations can take place either before or after an arrest has been made. In the case of the former, and a person is indicted, then federal agents have the legal authority to arrest the person in the indictment. If a suspect was arrested prior to the formation of the grad jury, then the indictment results in formal charges being filed against him. Under federal law, an accused can be held for up to 30 days before a grand jury must conclude its investigation.
ROLE OF THE DEFENSE ATTORNEY
A defense attorney cannot be with a suspect during a grand jury investigation. But it’s important to know that a federal defense lawyer can be right outside the room where the investigation takes place. Further, a suspect can consult with this attorney after each and every question. The key is that the accused cannot disrupt the grand jury process. As long as this does not take place, the suspect can confer with his defense lawyer for as long and often as he wants.
TALKING WITH GOVERNMENT AGENTS BEFORE AN INVESTIGATION
Suspects are under no obligation to speak with government agents before a federal grand jury investigation begins. There are times when an Assistant United States Attorney may try to persuade a person (a suspect or a witness) into meeting with federal agents prior to an investigation beginning However, the government has no legal authority to make a person agree to this meeting
SHADOW GRAND JURIES
A “shadow grand jury” is a tool utilized by a federal defense lawyer. Here, the attorney tries to figure out what witnesses the government may call in a grand jury investigation. The defense lawyer then tries to find witnesses that are friendly to the suspect and are willing to meet for an interview. An interview then takes place which gives the defense valuable information on the issues the government may raise. It is important to know, though, that a skilled defense attorney should use this tool with caution and carefully document all contacts. This is to prevent allegations of witness tampering and obstruction of justice.
The federal defense attorneys at Black Law have over twenty years of combined experience with successfully representing clients on federal charges. They have also advised clients at federal grand jury investigations. These criminal defense lawyers are passionate and tireless in their efforts. If you’re facing federal charges, contact them now to get the legal representation that you deserve.