The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution grants the right to a grand jury for indictment of all felonies.
A federal grand jury is a panel of 16 to 23 citizens residing in the area under the jurisdiction of the District Court. The grand jury hears and decides on evidence regarding a possible indictment for felony charges. State grand juries may also be impaneled for indictment in state criminal cases. Under Florida statutes, the number of jurors in a state grand jury ranges from 15-18 persons. A state grand jury follows a different set of guidelines as outlined in the statutes of that particular state.
While an individual called before a federal grand jury does not have the right to legal representation in the grand jury room during a grand jury proceedings, the person may ask to leave the room to consult with his or her attorney during questioning.
Witness, Subject or Target
If you have been called to testify before a grand jury, you fall into one of three categories: a witness, a subject or a target.
- A witness is a person that the grand jury subpoenas because they may provide information relevant to the investigation.
- A subject is a person whose conduct is within the scope of the grand jury’s investigation and upon further examination, that person’s status may be upgraded to a target.
- A target is an individual suspected of a crime against whom the prosecutor has gathered substantial evidence and is attempting to bring indictment.
Fifth Amendment Rights
When a subject or target is served a subpoena to appear before a federal grand jury, department of justice policy requires the prosecutor attach an “advice of rights” to the subpoena. An advice of rights informs the subject or target of their Fifth Amendment Rights that any statements they make may be held against them in future legal proceedings and that they may refuse to answer any question they believe would tend to incriminate them.
If you received a subpoena to appear in a grand jury investigation, you should seek counsel from an experienced criminal defense attorney, even if only appearing as a witness. At Sands & Moskowitz, P.A., our lawyers have extensive experience in providing legal advice regarding grand jury investigations and offering counsel during grand jury proceedings.