In the District of Columbia, prosecutors must secure an indictment to charge someone with a felony. To secure an indictment, prosecutors must convene a grand jury and present evidence to the grand jury. A grand jury is made up of members of the community just a like a regular jury in court. However, grand jury proceedings are secret, and the defendant or “target” of the investigation has no right to put on a defense.
The decision to indict is up to the grand jury if they determine that “probable cause” exists to believe that the target committed the alleged offense. Evidence the grand jury may consider typically involves witness testimony. To get witnesses before the grand jury, prosecutors will normally subpoena the witness. This article will go over what your legal rights are if you receive a grand jury subpoena and outlines what legal obligations you have. First, its important to note that a grand jury witness has several important legal rights. First, you have the right to an attorney. Anyone subpoenaed to the grand jury has a right to a lawyer and in DC if you cannot afford a lawyer the Court will appoint one for you. Second, you have a right to know what the grand jury is investigating. Finally, you have a right against self-incrimination, which means you do not have to answer questions that may incriminate you.