You might think that you have to wait until you’re formally charged to hire a criminal defense attorney, but that’s not the case.
Having an attorney before you are indicted can benefit you in many ways. In the best case, your attorney can convince the government not to file charges at all. Or a defense lawyer experienced with grand jury investigations can work to ensure that potential charges are never returned against you.
Virtually all major federal prosecutions and most Ohio felony criminal cases are charged by grand jury indictment. That means that the government’s attorneys present evidence from an ongoing criminal investigation to a grand jury. The jury then decides whether to return formal charges against one or more defendants in the form of an indictment. Although you cannot be represented by a lawyer in the grand jury room, your counsel can:
- 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 maintaining close contact with the prosecution
- Undertake an independent investigation of the facts that can deflect the prosecution’s interest away from you
- Advise you of 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 pre-indictment stage will help protect you from the risk of mistakes that can result in such charges as perjury or obstruction of justice.
In the federal system, pre-indictment defense during grand jury investigations can be most effective in fraud cases, corruption cases, and drug cases. In the Ohio system, early intervention is highly advisable in sex crimes, drug cases, fraud and white collar crimes, and property offenses such as auto theft or burglary.
For a free consultation about the best ways to protect yourself during the grand jury phase of a criminal investigation, contact Michael K. Allen & Associates. As the former Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney, Mike Allen knows how prosecutors work with investigators to develop cases in the pre-indictment phase.