Though we have discussed them, it is essential to quickly establish the grand jury’s role. A prosecutor makes a case in front of the grand jury, submits evidence, and questions witnesses. The prosecutor’s evidence may likely have been obtained through a grand jury subpoena.
If a federal prosecutor tries to convince the grand jury that you committed a crime, you will not be present when this occurs, nor will your attorney. Everything that happens during the grand jury will be “sealed.” The reason for this circles back to the grand jury’s purpose. They will determine whether there is enough evidence for you to be formally charged with a crime. There is no need to present a defense because, according to the law, that will happen at trial—if there is one. There is a fundamental difference between being indicted and being charged. Only a grand jury can indict someone, but a grand jury’s indictment will contain charges. Alternatively, charges can be filed by Information. A person can only be charged by Information if they waive their right to an Indictment. You may ask, why would someone waive their right to an Indictment by Grand Jury? The answer is simple – he or she is cooperating with the government in some way. Cooperating does not mean that only individuals that are meeting with agents and giving information on others committing crimes can be charged by Information. Cooperating could be defined as parties agreeing on certain facts. Sometimes, it is in a person’s best interest to cooperate with the government because it will result in a greater benefit to the client. Unlike an Indictment, if charged by Information, the case will, almost always, result in a plea.
What Happens Next
Once an Indictment or Information is issued, an arrest will follow. If charged by Information, the client’s attorney will arrange a surrender date with the government. By Indictment usually means the police come to your home in the early morning hours to arrest you. It is important to remember that neither an Indictment, charge, or arrest means that you are guilty. If possible, meet with your attorney before the grand jury investigation so she can explain what you can expect and what you should do. If you already have legal counsel, they will be in contact before and after the indictment to advise and support you.
After you are arrested, you will make an first appearance where the Magistrate Judge will advise your client of the charges. At that time, the Court will ask the government what they are recommending for bond. If bail is not stipulated, the case will be reset for a bond hearing. The next step is the arraignment where you will enter a plea of not guilty. At that point, you will need to discuss with your attorney what your best options are.
If you are the subject of a grand jury investigation, contact the trusted attorneys at Puglisi Law for a free consultation. We know how difficult this is for you, and we are here to help you and your family understand what is going on and how we will fight it on your behalf.