So you have been served with a grand jury subpoena. What does this mean?
Answer provided by:Phillip Zane
A federal grand jury is a body composed of ordinary citizens (from 16 to 23 of them) that meets regularly to determine whether probably cause exists to charge individuals or organizations with a crime. The grand jury is guided in its charging decisions by a federal prosecutor, either one assigned to a United States Attorney’s Office or to the Department of Justice. A grand jury has broad power to investigate potential criminal offenses. Accordingly, it may subpoena all witnesses, nonprivileged documents and other physical evidence relevant to its investigation, provided that the subpoenas are not unreasonably burdensome. Probable cause is not a prerequisite to the issuance of a subpoena. Companies and individuals that receive grand jury subpoenas are typically classified as “targets,” “subjects” or “witnesses.” These categories are not precise and may change over the course of the investigation. “Targets” are putative defendants and likely to be charged with a crime based on the state of the evidence. “Subjects” are persons or organizations whose activity comes within the scope of the grand jury’s investigation, but against whom the evidence may not be sufficient to charge at the current time. “Witnesses” are believed to be persons with knowledge or information likely to be helpful to the investigation but believed not be have been involved in the potentially unlawful conduct or persons whose involvement was directed by persons with much greater culpability.