Clients in Oklahoma may be investigated by either state or federal grand juries. In federal matters, a defendant must be indicted by a grand jury or waive indictment to be charged with federal crimes. The Oklahoma criminal justice system operates primarily by “information” (charges filed by the District Attorney), although the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Multi-County Grand Jury statute is being more frequently utilized to investigate state crime and prosecute by indictment.
GRAND JURY SUBPOENAS & INVESTIGATION
Grand jury investigations in Oklahoma are generally conducted by the Attorney General of Oklahoma, while the U.S. Attorney’s Office presents evidence to the federal grand jury. The federal and state systems are unique, and your choice of counsel is important because counsel must know the intricacies of the grand jury conducting the investigation in order to advise you properly. The Wyatt Law Office offers experienced counsel who know the differences and know how to get things accomplished under either system.
Target or Witness
When you receive a grand jury subpoena, you may be the target of the investigation or merely a witness. A target or subject of a grand jury is the person or company under investigation. The prosecutors are not required to advise you of your status as a target, subject or witness. Because the actions of a grand jury are conducted in secret, the prosecutors can lawfully tell you that they cannot advise why you are being summoned to the grand jury. Generally, your lawyer will be able to get some information that will indicate your status, so hire an attorney.
Targets or subjects of a grand jury have the same constitutional rights as someone accused of a crime outside of a grand jury. You have the right to counsel and the right to remain silent. It is the advice of the Wyatt Law Office that you exercise both rights. In Oklahoma, you actually have the right to have your attorney with you in the grand jury room while you testify or while you invoke your right to silence. In the federal court system, you have the right to have your attorney right outside of the grand jury room so that you can ask questions of your attorney. Unless your attorney has negotiated immunity or you are ordered to answer a specific question by a judge, it is generally our practice to direct you to invoke privilege.
The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly held that even an “innocent man” has the right to plead the Fifth Amendment. It has also held that it is counsel’s duty to inform the witness or client of this right and determined that the Fifth Amendment is one of the most important and historically protected privileges.
Again, keep silent!
Even if you are merely a witness and truly are not a target of subject of a grand jury investigation, you have the same rights. You are entitled to have assistance of counsel and the right to invoke privilege. As with targets, we recommend not testifying without immunity. If you are only a witness, why wouldn’t the prosecutor grant immunity? Because you don’t know the reason for the investigation or the scope of the investigation (even if you know the reason), you might be snared by your statements if you testify. As indicated, the Fifth Amendment is intended to protect the innocent man, so demand immunity.
TARGET & SUBJECT DEFINED
The U.S. Attorney’s Manual defines a “subject” is someone “whose conduct is within the scope of the grand jury’s investigation.” See § 9-11.150, U.S. Attorney’s Manual (1993) . It defines a “target” of an investigation as someone “to whom the prosecutor or the grand jury has substantial evidence linking him to the commission of a crime and who, in the judgment of the prosecutor, is a putative defendant.” § 9-11.150, U.S. Attorney’s Manual (1993).
MIRANDA WARNINGS NOT REQUIRED
The prosecution is not required to advise you of your rights (Miranda warnings). That is only required if you are “in custody.” Because grand jury witnesses and targets are not in custody, they are not read their rights. This can expose you to prosecution if you say anything that is incriminating or leads to incriminating information.
Indictment If a grand jury finds sufficient evidence of a crime, it returns a “true bill” of indictment. If not, it returns “no bill.” An indictment is required for felony crimes charged in federal court, but generally Oklahoma state courts proceed by information (without presentment to a grand jury). An indictment can only be dismissed by a judge because it was returned by a grand jury. It can only be amended by a superseding indictment, again returned by a grand jury.
In Oklahoma state courts, if you are charged by indictment, you are still entitled to a preliminary hearing, but only if you make a timely request in writing. You will need a lawyer if indicted. Be sure to ask for a preliminary hearing in state court. In federal court, you are not entitled to a preliminary hearing once an indictment is returned.
Call the Wyatt Law Office at 405.234.5500 for your Oklahoma Grand Jury Lawyers and Attorneys. Your future is our business.