For most people who find themselves dealing with law enforcement or the criminal justice system, their experience begins with an arrest and the filing of criminal charges. An arrest for DUI, assault, domestic violence, and other crimes that may not involve any forethought happens suddenly, and the need for an experienced criminal defense attorney becomes immediately apparent.
However, many arrests or indictments happen after the government, regulators, or law enforcement officials have spent months or years investigating an individual. If you find yourself the subject of a criminal investigation or subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury, you can't wait to find out whether charges will be filed before you act. You need a lawyer immediately to protect your rights during the investigation and prevent any actions that could be devastating in the event that you are charged with a crime.
Insight and Experience to Protect the Rights and Ease the Mind of Those Facing Investigations
I spent sixteen years as a government prosecutor. During that time, I developed a deep understanding of how law enforcement agencies and prosecutors conduct investigations and seek indictments. I use this experience and insight to help my clients determine the appropriate response to an investigation, from full cooperation to invoking constitutional protections against self-incrimination. Outside of the courtroom, my extensive contacts in the media industry and experience handling high-profile cases allows me to assist clients with developing the right approach to protect their interests in the court of public opinion.
Government and Federal Agency Investigations
Individuals, businesses, corporate officers, and employees are all subject to investigation under a variety of state and federal regulations. Both the government and its regulatory agencies are empowered to conduct investigations in an effort to uncover criminal activity. These investigations are typically necessary for prosecutors to accumulate enough evidence to charge a suspect with a crime. In many cases, the criminal behavior involves so-called "white collar" crime, such as fraud, embezzlement, and other financial misconduct. Although these activities are non-violent, prosecutors take them very seriously. Many financial crimes are punishable by up to 25 years in prison.
Prosecutors use grand juries to investigate suspicions of criminal activity. If the grand jury determines there is enough probable cause to file criminal charges, it has the power to return an indictment. In this way, individuals can be charged with a crime without being arrested or even aware of the pending investigation.
Grand jury proceedings are conducted in secrecy without the usual checks and balances due process usually requires. This secret proceeding involves a government prosecutor presenting evidence to the grand jury without defense counsel appearing or presenting evidence in favor of the accused. Federal prosecutors use grand juries to investigate allegations to build a future case against a defendant. If you are called to appear before a grand jury, you may not even know you are the target of an investigation. Because the grand jury only hears one side of the case, often overcharged and even completely unfounded indictments are returned against unknowing individuals.
Why You Need a Lawyer for a Criminal Investigation or Grand Jury
If you have received a subpoena or some other document notifying you that you are involved in a government investigation, it is imperative to safeguard your rights as soon as possible. Whether you have been called as a witness or you have been identified as a suspect, speaking to the authorities without an attorney can expose you to substantial risk.
Although you are not allowed to have your attorney with you when you appear before the grand jury, in most cases you are permitted to consult with your lawyer after each question. You can also take notes during the proceedings and show them to your attorney throughout the grand jury process. Working with an attorney can help you avoid incriminating yourself during this nerve-wracking procedure.