Grand Jury Investigations

The Grand Jury is a cornerstone of the American Legal system and it is important to understand how the system works. It allows the criminal justice system to smoothly and effectively execute the laws of the state of Texas. Educating individuals can help all of us feel safer under the law.

What is a Grand Jury and what is its purpose?

The Grand Jury has been an important part of the criminal legal process since the dawn of America. A Grand Jury, typically consisting of around 12 everyday citizens, are present throughout a trial. The main purpose of the Grand Jury is to collectively judge whether there was a probable cause that a crime was committed.

The jurors must meet in a private room to discuss the merits of such probable cause based on witness testimony in court and subpoenaed evidence. Once decided, if probable cause has been determined, the grand jury serves an indictment to the defendant. The purpose of an indictment is to inform the defendant that they have been formally accused of a crime and that a defense should be prepared. In the state of Texas, the required number of jurors is 12 for all counties, with a quorum of nine needed to proceed. Nine jurors must vote for a “true bill” in order to get an indictment.

What do I do if I have received a Grand Jury Subpoena?

The most important first step once receiving a grand jury subpoena is to contact an criminal defense attorney in order to get a better understanding of why you have been ordered. A subpoena does not necessarily mean you are the target of a criminal investigation, but knowing the reason you have been served a subpoena is very important. If you do not respond to a subpoena, you will be in contempt of the court, so it is vital to understand your situation and respond. 

Why have I received a subpoena?

In a Grand Jury investigation, there are typical three reasons why a court would serve a subpoena to an individual.

Target: If an individual is considered a “target,” the government believes that there is substantial evidence connecting him/her to the crime and could move to indict such individual. A person is usually named as a target only when prosecutors are ready to bring criminal charges. If an individual is a target of the Grand Jury investigation, prosecutors may inform that person of his/her status through a “target letter,” providing that person the opportunity to testify before the Grand Jury before seeking an indictment. 

Witness: A witness is almost the opposite of a target. If an individual is considered a “witness,” he/she is not under investigation, but rather has important information and facts relevant to the Grand Jury. Individuals testify as witnesses for many reasons, but they are not typically considered to have committed a crime. 

Subject: A subject is midway between a target and a witness. If an individual is considered a “subject,” their conduct is within the scope of the Grand Jury’s investigation. Their behavior is seen as suspicious and the subject may have engaged in illegal activity.

These distinctions merely signify the government’s view of a person based on information and evidence available.

What are the different types of Grand Jury subpoenas?

In a Grand Jury investigation there are two types of subpoenas an individual can receive:

Subpoena duces tecum: This subpoena requires an individual to produce certain documents as necessary information. This warrants an individual to appear in court to provide the materials commanded by the subpoena. A subpoena duces tecum may require the witness to testify as well, either to authenticate the documents to allow their use as evidence, and/or about the facts of the case.

Subpoena ad testificandum: This subpoena requires an individual to appear in court to testify. The only thing required to bring to court is yourself as the only purpose of this subpoena is to testify in court.

Why do I need a lawyer?

When participating in a Grand Jury investigation, a lawyer is necessary to guide you through every step of the process.

When you are given a subpoena to court, contacting a lawyer is essential in order to understand your role in the investigation and why the court has brought you into the investigation. Once you are in court, it is your constitutional right to have your lawyer present. Because Grand Jury rooms are secret, your lawyer can only be present inside the room, but Grand Jury witnesses have the right to excuse themselves to confer with their attorney.

Having a lawyer at your side throughout the Grand Jury process can ease your stress and give you a better understanding your role in court.

What can Gary Tabakman do to defend me?

Gary Tabakman is an award-winning lawyer who has assisted many clients partaking in Grand Jury investigations. Mr. Tabakman knows the law and will stop at nothing to ensure a smooth testimony and that you are treated fairly under the law.

To speak to Gary Tabakman about your unique legal situation, call 713-331-9457 today to schedule a free initial consultation and case evaluation.