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Federal Grand Jury Subpoena Defense Lawyers

By Spodek Law Group | January 22, 2023
(Last Updated On: October 26, 2023)

Last Updated on: 26th October 2023, 04:14 pm


Federal Grand Jury Subpoena Defense Lawyers

Receiving a federal grand jury subpoena can be an intimidating and stressful experience. A federal grand jury subpoena formally requests testimony, documents, or both from an individual and is issued by a federal district court judge at the request of a federal prosecutor[1]. If you receive a federal grand jury subpoena, it likely means you or someone you know is the target of a federal criminal investigation.

While scary, having an experienced federal grand jury subpoena defense lawyer on your side can help ensure your rights are protected throughout the process. This article will provide an overview of federal grand jury subpoenas, tips for responding, and why hiring a knowledgeable defense attorney is critical.

Overview of Federal Grand Juries

The Fifth Amendment requires grand juries for prosecuting capital and infamous crimes at the federal level[1]. This means felony charges must be indicted by a grand jury unless waived by the defendant. Federal grand juries have around 16-23 members and receive evidence from a federal prosecutor regarding crimes in their district[2].

After reviewing the prosecutor’s evidence and arguments, the grand jurors vote on whether to issue an indictment if they believe probable cause exists that federal criminal laws were violated[2]. An indictment requires agreement from at least 12 of the 23 grand jurors[2].

Federal Grand Jury Subpoenas

Federal prosecutors have various investigative tools, including federal grand jury subpoenas[1]. These subpoenas are issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, not the grand jury itself, without needing judicial approval[1].

Federal grand jury subpoenas can request[1]:

  • Documents – Known as a subpoena duces tecum, requesting records relevant to the investigation. This can include personal documents or those you have custody of in an official capacity.
  • Testimony – Called a subpoena ad testificandum, requiring appearance to provide testimony. This may be as a witness, subject, or target.
  • Both – A subpoena can request both testimony and documents.

The subpoena will list your name, date, time, and address to appear or provide documents, or both.

Responding to a Federal Grand Jury Subpoena

Here are important tips for responding to a federal grand jury subpoena:

  • Act Quickly – You typically have 30 days to respond, so engaging counsel quickly is key[4]. Time limits can mean permanently losing rights if missed.
  • Consult an Attorney – Speaking without an attorney risks accidentally self-incriminating or perjury. An experienced lawyer can advise if grounds exist to quash the subpoena[1].
  • Review Questions/Documents – Understand the testimony and documents requested to determine if privileged or irrelevant[4]. Overly broad requests may be challenged.
  • Assert Rights – Plead the Fifth if questions may incriminate you. An attorney can ensure rights are protected[2].
  • Be Truthful – Lying under oath leads to perjury charges. An attorney can guide you to answer truthfully without self-incriminating.
  • Follow Instructions – Carefully abide by what the subpoena requests regarding documents, testimony, and deadlines.

Motions to Quash a Federal Grand Jury Subpoena

If grounds exist, your attorney can file a motion to quash the subpoena[4]. Reasons may include:

  • Requested information is protected by privilege
  • Subpoena is overly broad or unduly burdensome
  • Information sought is irrelevant to the investigation

However, details of the investigation are secret, so relevancy claims are often difficult[4]. Still, an experienced attorney can argue to limit or quash the subpoena if rights are jeopardized.

Why You Need an Attorney for a Federal Grand Jury Subpoena

Navigating federal grand jury subpoenas without an attorney is extremely risky. Key benefits a lawyer provides include:

  • Guidance on Responding – They advise if grounds exist to challenge the subpoena and guide you through the process.
  • Avoid Self-Incrimination – They ensure you don’t accidentally make statements under oath that could incriminate you.
  • Build a Defense – They work to undermine the prosecutor’s arguments and develop defenses early.
  • Negotiate with Prosecutors – They can potentially negotiate with prosecutors regarding the scope of testimony and documents.
  • Ensure Fair Treatment – They defend your rights and work to achieve the best outcome under the law.
  • Avoid Perjury – They prepare you to answer truthfully while protecting against self-incrimination.

Having an experienced federal grand jury subpoena defense lawyer is critical to protecting your rights and interests during the investigation. Do not wait to engage counsel if you receive a subpoena.


Receiving a federal grand jury subpoena can be intimidating but having a knowledgeable federal defense lawyer on your side can help ensure your rights are protected. They provide vital guidance on responding, negotiate with prosecutors, avoid accidental self-incrimination, and work to achieve the best possible outcome under the circumstances. Don’t go it alone – consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible after receiving a federal grand jury subpoena.


[1] https://federal-lawyer.com/criminal-law/grand-jury-subpoena/

[2] https://www.mcandrewslegal.com/other-practice-areas/pa-grand-jury-investigation-defense/

[3] https://www.phila-criminal-lawyer.com/criminal-defense-overview/federal-crimes/federal-grand-jury-practice/

[4] https://www.cohenseglias.com/news-article/pennsylvania-investigating-grand-jury-subpoenas-faq/

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