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Juror who prompted calls for new Ghislaine Maxwell trial turns to lawyer who defended Anna Sorokin.
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Last Updated on: 20th October 2023, 08:46 pm
Being called to testify before a federal grand jury can be an intimidating and confusing experience. As a lawyer who has represented numerous clients in these proceedings, I’m often asked a range of questions about how federal grand juries work and what rights an individual has when testifying.
In this article, I’ll aim to answer some of the most common FAQs I receive about the federal grand jury process in an easy-to-understand way. My goal isn’t to give formal legal advice, but rather provide a helpful overview so you know what to generally expect if you ever find yourself in this situation.
A federal grand jury is a group of 16 to 23 citizens who are tasked with deciding whether there is probable cause to believe a crime has been committed and to bring criminal charges against a defendant through an indictment. Grand juries operate in secrecy – their proceedings are closed to the public and records are sealed.
Federal grand juries are very powerful investigative bodies. They can subpoena documents and witnesses to testify. However, they don’t determine guilt or innocence – that role belongs to a trial jury if charges are brought. The grand jury simply decides if there is enough evidence to move forward with charges.
The federal grand jury process typically unfolds as follows:
A single federal grand jury can be impaneled for up to 18 months, but individual jurors typically serve for about 30 days at a time. Over the course of its term, a federal grand jury may consider multiple investigations and vote on multiple indictments.
There’s a few main reasons why federal prosecutors may want you to testify before a grand jury:
In most cases, witnesses are not the actual target of the investigation – they simply have information that may assist the grand jury. However, sometimes the prosecutor does intend to seek an indictment against the witness.
Some key rights to be aware of if called to testify include:
However, you do not have the right to remain completely silent or refuse to appear before the grand jury. If you refuse to testify after being granted immunity, you could potentially be held in contempt.
If you receive a subpoena to appear before a federal grand jury, here are some key steps:
Having an attorney help guide you through the process is highly recommended. An attorney can ensure your rights are protected and provide guidance on handling the prosecutors questions.
There’s three potential outcomes after you testify before the grand jury:
If you are indicted, the next steps will be an arraignment and then either a criminal trial or plea bargain negotiations. Having an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer to guide you through this process is critical.
Being called before a federal grand jury can be unnerving, but understanding the process and your rights is empowering. Some key takeaways to remember:
With the help of an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer, you can navigate the grand jury process and protect your rights.
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