California Federal Grand Jury Subpoena Defense
Our Federal Defense Lawyers Have Successfully Handled More than 1,000 Grand Jury Proceedings in California and Across the United States
Among all of the many and varied investigative tools at the federal government’s disposal, the grand jury subpoena is unique in its potential consequences for the target of the government’s investigation. While the other tools federal agents and prosecutors use to conduct investigations (such as target letters and civil investigative demands) can produce evidence that may eventually build up to substantiate a charge, the grand jury is the last step in the investigative process before charges get filed.
A grand jury has two potential outcomes: an indictment or no indictment. There is no middle ground. If the evidence presented to the grand jury is sufficient to establish “probable cause” to believe that a federal crime has been committed, then the grand jury will issue a “true bill” which will be followed by formal charges. However, if the government’s evidence is lacking, then the grand jury will issue a “no bill” and no charges will follow. While facing an indictment does not necessarily mean that you will be convicted at trial (the trial standard is much stricter than the “probable cause” standard for the grand jury, and there are numerous potential pre-trial and trial defenses in federal criminal cases), the benefits of avoiding a federal grand jury indictment should be patently obvious.
Experienced Federal Defense Lawyers for Grand Jury Proceedings in California
If you have been served with a federal grand jury subpoena in California, it is important that you engage experienced defense counsel immediately. Whether you are merely a witness (or suspected witness) or you are the target of the government’s investigation, you need to be absolutely certain that you are responding to the grand jury subpoena appropriately. Not only could unnecessarily disclosing information lead to an indictment (or lead to you becoming a target instead of a witness), but failing to respond appropriately could lead to federal charges as well.
At Oberheiden, P.C., our federal defense lawyers offer the experience of successfully handling more than 1,000 federal grand jury proceedings in California and nationwide. Our lawyers are able to represent clients throughout California, and we are available to represent clients in federal grand jury proceedings in:
- United States District Court for the Central District of California
- United States District Court for the Eastern District of California
- United States District Court for the Northern District of California
- United States District Court for the Southern District of California
Whether you are being compelled to testify or you have received a federal grand jury subpoena duces tecum, our lawyers can help you understand your obligations and protect you during all stages of the federal grand jury process. From challenging your grand jury subpoena on procedural or constitutional grounds to anticipating federal prosecutors’ questions and preparing your responses, we can use our vast experience to help ensure that you are protected.
Responding to a Federal Grand Jury Subpoena
Why Have You Been subpoenaed?
When you receive a federal grand jury subpoena, one of the first things you need to do is to determine why you have been subpoenaed. More specifically, you need figure out if you are being subpoenaed as a witness or as the target (or one of many targets) of the government’s investigation.
Determining why you have been subpoenaed serves a number of different purposes. First and foremost, it determines whether you need to immediately be concerned about the risk of federal prosecution. If you have been subpoenaed as a witness (for example, as the records custodian of a large corporation), then your next steps will be very different than those of someone being targeted for fraud, drug crimes, or any of a broad array of other federal offenses.
If you are being targeted for federal prosecution, then everything you say and do from this point forward could potentially impact the outcome of your case. You need to do everything possible to protect yourself against an indictment, and this starts with hiring experienced legal representation.
What Type of Response is the Government Requesting?
In addition to determining why you have been subpoenaed, you also need to determine what type of information the government is requesting. There are three main types of grand jury subpoenas: (i) those requiring testimony, (ii) those requiring document production (referred to as a subpoena duces tecum), and (iii) those requiring both testimony and the production of documents.
If federal prosecutors are only asking you to testify, then your preparation efforts should focus on anticipating potential questions and crafting appropriate responses. In this context, an “appropriate” response is one that both satisfies your legal obligations and protects you against self-incrimination. With a team that includes former federal prosecutors who used to conduct federal grand jury proceedings on behalf of the government, we can use our experience and insights to help you prepare your testimony as thoroughly as possible.
What Responsive Information or Records Do You Have?
If you have been served with a federal grand jury subpoena duces tecum, then you must quickly determine what electronically-stored information and hardcopy records within your custody or control are responsive to the government’s demand. You must preserve these records, and you must prepare to submit them to the government in an acceptable format (subject to any grounds to object to the subpoena or withhold privileged information, as discussed below). Depending upon the volume of responsive records you have, as well as the format and location in which they are stored, this could be a significant undertaking.
Federal grand jury subpoenas will often require production of an extraordinarily large volume of records stored in a variety of formats, from paper patient records (in cases involving allegations of health care fraud) to emails, texts, contracts, and data files stored in the cloud. Whether federal prosecutors realize the volume of records they are requesting or not, unless you submit a timely and successful challenge to your federal grand jury subpoena duces tecum, you must fully comply with their demand for production.
Do You Have Grounds to Challenge the Subpoena?
Due to the amount of work involved in responding to a federal grand jury subpoena, in most cases it will be important to begin working on your response immediately. However, in parallel with these efforts, it may also be advisable to interface with federal prosecutors or formally challenge the subpoena in federal district court.
There are a number of potential grounds to challenge a federal grand jury subpoena or a federal grand jury subpoena duces tecum. We say, “potential,” because these grounds will not be available in all cases. Depending upon the circumstances at hand, it may be possible to challenge a federal grand jury subpoena on grounds of:
- Procedural miscues or deficiencies
- Request for information that is irrelevant to the government’s investigation
- Request for information not within the subpoena recipient’s custody or control
- Overly-broad and overly-burdensome production obligations
- Unreasonably intrusive and oppressive demands
While filing a motion to quash the subpoena may be necessary, in many cases it will be more advantageous to engage in an open dialogue with the federal prosecutors handling your case. Not only can this help shed light on the nature of the case, but it can also serve to clarify and establish limits on your response obligations as well.
Are You Entitled to Withhold any Responsive Information?
In addition to these types of grounds, which can be asserted to challenge a federal grand jury subpoena, it may also be permissible to withhold responsive information based upon the attorney-client privilege. This privilege can be asserted even when the information sought is relevant and within your possession, and when providing the information to the government would not impose an undue burden.
Before testifying or submitting any documents to the government, it is absolutely essential to review your proposed federal grand jury subpoena response to ensure that it does not contain any privileged information. If you disclose privileged information, even inadvertently, this can result in the attorney-client privilege being deemed waived entirely.
Are You Prepared to Testify Before the Grand Jury?
If you are being asked to testify, then you will need to prepare your testimony as thoroughly as possible. By communicating with the federal prosecutors handling your case, our attorneys can gain insight into the nature and scope of the case in order anticipate the questions you are likely to be asked. Our attorneys will work with you one-on-one, across multiple sessions if necessary, to prepare your answers, and we will develop a plan for you to seek our advice during the grand jury proceedings (since you are not entitled to legal representation in the courtroom).
Contact Oberheiden, P.C. Now to Discuss Your Federal Grand Jury Subpoena
If you have been served with a federal grand jury subpoena in California, we encourage you to contact us immediately for a free and confidential consultation. To speak with one of our highly-experienced federal defense lawyers as soon as possible, call 888-680-1745 or tell us how to reach you online now.
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