Contact an Experienced Albany Criminal Defense Attorney Prior to Grand Jury Testimony
Virtually every day, people are served with subpoenas to appear before a grand jury — and most have no grasp of what grand jury proceedings involve. On a basic level, if you have been called to testify, it means a prosecutor believes you have information that will support someone’s indictment on serious criminal charges.
At the Law Office of Mark J. Sacco, PLLC, we have extensive experience in both the state and federal court systems. We can fully explain your rights and obligations before you testify – in the effort to provide maximum protection of your interests. Contact us to arrange a consultation at our office in either Albany or Schenectady.
How Does a New York City Grand Jury Work?
All felony cases in New York’s Five Boroughs, including Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn, are presented to a grand jury, which is composed of between 16 and 23 citizens. The grand jury listens to witness testimony and sees evidence presented by DAs, who need the grand jury’s permission to take a case to trial.
An NYC grand jury determines whether enough evidence exists for the prosecutor to charge a person with a crime so that the case can proceed to trial. If a majority of the members on the grand jury vote for an indictment, the case is adjourned until an indictment is filed, at which point the defendant will be arraigned in NY Supreme Court in advance of a potential trial.
Although a grand jury can vote to dismiss the matter by returning what is called a “no bill,” NYC grand juries rarely dismiss charges because the standard for an indictment is so low. While everyone knows that a criminal conviction requires “proof beyond a reasonable doubt,” a grand jury indictment merely requires belief that the defendant probably committed the crime.
In addition to voting for an indictment or voting to dismiss the charges, a grand jury may vote to return the case to criminal court for misdemeanor charges or direct the removal of the case to NYC Family Court.
Importantly, all grand jury proceedings are conducted behind closed doors and are not open to the public. There is no judge present at a grand jury proceeding. Instead, the DA tends to take control of the proceedings by advising the jurors and questioning all witnesses.
Understanding Your Legal Rights, Your Obligations and Any Risks
Your specific grand jury subpoena might be for proceedings associated with a federal or New York state investigation — involving allegations ranging from drug trafficking to public corruption or business fraud. Whether or not you believe you have anything to hide, or that the prosecutor’s investigation in pursuit of an indictment could ultimately impact you, it is important to understand your rights and risks.
Once we understand your circumstances, we can advise you on issues such as:
- Whether you can and should claim a specific privilege — such as the right not to incriminate yourself or your spouse — in order to exempt yourself from testifying
- How to protect yourself from exposure to a serious charge such as perjury, and from being held in contempt of court
- What legal options you have if you feel offering truthful witness testimony may put you in danger
- Any supportive or active role we may be able to play as an attorney representing you
We Respect Your Concerns and Offer Knowledgeable Insight
We understand how disturbing and intimidating it may be to learn you are required to testify in grand jury proceedings. Our mission is to provide you with an experienced lawyer’s insight into your legal rights — and to be a valuable resource for you should you need further criminal defense counsel at any point. If you would like to discuss your concerns, please call our office or contact us online.