What Happens In a Grand Jury?

Many people who receive a federal grand jury subpoena don't know what happens in a federal grand jury.

In this short video, federal criminal defense attorney Matt Kaiser explains what happens in a federal grand jury.

Video Transcript:

If you have been served with a Grand Jury Subpoena and you are going to be testifying before a grand jury, you are probably wondering what happens in a grand jury. It's an odd kind of a proceeding. In this video I would like to talk just a little bit about what happens inside the grand jury.

First, when you go into the grand jury room you should know it's not like a normal court room. There is no judge there. The people who will be in the room with you will be you, if you’re the witness. There will be the prosecutor who will be asking you questions. There will be a court reporter there. And then there will be a number of grand jurors including a grand jury foreperson. There will be between sixteen and twenty-three grand jurors who will be listening to your testimony. These are folks who got summons for grand jury service just like how someone can get summons for jury service at a trial.

What will happen is you will go in, you will be sworn in and you will take an oath to tell the truth and the prosecutor will ask questions. Your defense lawyer is not allowed to be there. Instead, your defense lawyer will be in a room, just outside the grand jury room, if you have questions. At the same time if there is a defense lawyer for somebody who is under investigation that person won't be allowed to be there either. The only people in the room are you, the court reporter, the prosecutor and the grand jurors.

Everyone in the grand jury room is sworn to secrecy except for the witness. So the grand jurors can’t tell anybody what happened, the court reporter can’t let the transcript just go out willy-nilly and the prosecutor can’t tell anybody what somebody said in the grand jury. The only person who has the ability to share what happened in the grand jury is the witness. So if you are going into the grand jury the only person who can share what you said is you.