Dealing with a grand jury: Avoid unexpected pitfalls

With a grand jury, it might sound like you’ll get a fair shot at avoiding an indictment or criminal charges. But any time a grand jury is convened, it’s typically not a good sign. Grand juries can be unpredictable and you must be cautious in how you act and represent yourself during grand jury proceedings.

In a white-collar case, the prosecutor looks to show your guilt by exposing the so-called truth behind your actions. For instance, the prosecutor may take evidence you’ve produced to protect yourself and twist it in a way that makes you look bad to the jury.

How can you avoid unexpected issues when you’re facing a grand jury?

The first thing that you need to know is exactly what the case is about. If your attorney doesn’t know the exact issue that the prosecution wants to expose, then he or she can’t advise you properly. In any situation where you’re a witness, defendant or target, knowing the role you play and how the prosecution may want to use that is important to protecting your reputation and freedoms.

There are some situations in which you might be a target of the prosecution but could receive immunity. If those circumstances apply to your case, find out quickly from your attorney. Trading information for immunity is a fast way to make sure you walk away without serious penalties. It’s most common for people to obtain immunity when they’re a witness to a criminal act headed by a different individual. For example, an employee that participates in a crime but knows the person in charge of the crime ring could ask for immunity to speak out against the person in charge.

Grand juries are usually convened in only the most serious cases. Sometimes, defense attorneys can’t be present, but they can be outside the court room. In those instances, you have a right to ask to speak to your attorney if the jury asks you questions about which you need more advice. Solid preparation before trial is what you need to make sure you know exactly what could happen during your testimony.