What should I do if I receive either a grand jury subpoena or a “target letter” from the United States Attorney’s Office in Ohio?

Joseph E. Scott - Criminal Defense: White Collar - Super Lawyers

Answered by: Joseph E. Scott

Scott & Nolder Co., LPA
Columbus, OH
Phone: 614-221-9790
Fax: 614-358-3598

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Before charges are formally filed, many individuals are notified they are targets of a federal criminal investigation by receipt of either a grand jury subpoena or a target letter from an assistant United States attorney. A grand jury subpoena is the court-issued process requiring a person to appear before the grand jury that is investigating a crime. At this proceeding, the person subpoenaed might be required to produce documents, give testimony and/or provide fingerprints, photographs, or handwriting exemplars.

If the grand jury subpoena seeks testimonial evidence from a person, then that person might have a valid Fifth Amendment claim to resist testifying if that testimony might tend to incriminate him.  However, if non-testimonial evidence is sought, such as a DNA sample, handwriting exemplars or fingerprints, then there would be no valid Fifth Amendment claim that could be asserted.

In contrast, a “target letter” is correspondence from the United States Attorney’s Office notifying the recipient that he is the target of a criminal investigation and explaining the nature of the investigation and the need to secure representation.

Don’t delay in hiring competent counsel!

If you receive either a grand jury subpoena or a target letter, it is essential to the success of your defense to immediately contact an attorney that has extensive experience defending federal criminal cases. Although there are many attorneys that handle state criminal matters, federal charges involve legal issues and procedures that are substantially more complex than in Ohio state courts. Additionally, federal crimes generally carry harsher penalties than state crimes, so it is important to retain counsel that is experienced in defending cases in the federal system.

In order to have the best chances of achieving the most positive outcome in your case, you need a knowledgeable attorney that can protect your constitutional rights every step of the way and ensure that an investigation of the unique circumstances of your case is carried out to provide you with the best defense. 

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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