Under the United States and New Jersey Constitutions every defendant has a right to have their case presented to a grand jury. The grand jury is a group of random citizens not unlike a petit jury at trial. However, the grand jury presentation differs from that of a trial in that the proceedings is conducted in secret without a judge, defendant or defense attorney present. The grand jury proceedings consists of the grand jurors, the assistant prosecutor, deputy attorney general or assistant United States attorney and the witnesses called by the State or the Government during its presentation of the case. A grand jury typically will return an indictment based on the evidence presented after being instructed on the law by the prosecutor presenting the case. All that is required is that the grand jury find probable cause to believe a crime was committed and that the defendant committed it. Once the finding is made the defendant will be arraigned in court on the indictment.
An accused has the right to participate as a witness during the grand jury presentation under limited circumstances where the accused offers testimony that is clearly exculpatory or proves their innocence. In said circumstances the defendant should immediately consult with an attorney about the best possible strategy for providing grand jury testimony, as it is sworn testimony that may later be used against them if the matter is not dismissed by the grand jury.
In other circumstances, you may receive a subpoena to appear as a witness at either a county, state or federal grand jury hearing. It is imperative that you retain counsel if you are compelled to testify. This is especially the case where a witness may be the target of the investigation or expose himself to criminal liability through his or her testimony. Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney such a Maximillian A. Novel will provide any defendant and or witness with the level of protection needed under these circumstances.