Investigative or Pre-Indictment Stages
Whenever a defense attorney gets the chance to represent a client prior to a grand jury's return of an indictment, it can be very beneficial to the client. The best result is to convince law enforcement not to pursue charges at all, but more often, a defense lawyer experienced with grand jury investigations can influence the pre-indictment proceedings to the client's advantage. Effective intervention at the grand jury stage can mean that the most serious potential charges are never returned against you.
All major federal prosecutions and most Ohio felony criminal cases are charged by grand jury indictment. That means that the prosecutors present evidence from an ongoing criminal investigation to a grand jury that then decides whether to return formal charges against one or more defendants in the form of an indictment. Although a defendant cannot be represented by an attorney in the grand jury hearing, an attorney can achieve a great deal to protect your interests in such ways as the following:
- • Clarify your status in the investigation — are you the target, a subject, a witness, or other person of interest?
- • Monitor the grand jury proceedings by interviewing witnesses and/or maintaining close contact with the prosecution.
- • Conduct an independent investigation of the facts and deflect the prosecution's interest away from you.
- • Advise you about the best response to subpoenas for documents or testimony, contacts from law enforcement agents, or getting ready to testify before a grand jury.
- • Negotiate the turnover of documents or computer software as an alternative to an unannounced raid at your home or place of business.
At the very least, sound legal advice in the investigative or pre-indictment stages will help protect you from the risk of mistakes that can affect the outcome of an investigation or prosecution against you.