Originally published in Northern Nevada Business Weekly - Business Law Guide 2012.
Whenever a client in Northern Nevada has the misfortune of getting visited by federal agents and served with a grand jury subpoena, the client wants to know the answer to a basic question: What is going to happen to me? Businesses and individuals receive these subpoenas for documents and testimony.
Federal grand jury investigations are generally intimidating, long lasting, and stressful ordeals. The grand jury’s “principal function is to determine whether or not there is probable cause to believe that one or more persons committed a certain federal offense,” says the U.S. Attorney’s Manual. Prosecutors with the Justice Department and U.S. Attorney’s Offices will characterize a person in one of three categories: witness, subject or target. Distinguishing between these categories is extremely important for advice. Moreover, the person’s status will help determine viable options to make a key decision for the client on how next to proceed. Counsel’s understanding of the client’s status in a federal investigation is crucial to making the right decision.
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