Receive a Grand Jury Subpoena? Here Are 9 Things To Do

Receiving a grand jury subpoena can be a daunting experience. Whether you are a witness, a subject, or a target, it’s essential to understand the steps you should take to navigate this legal process effectively. Here’s a comprehensive guide on what to do if you receive a grand jury subpoena, presented in a reader-friendly manner.

Understanding a Grand Jury Subpoena

A grand jury subpoena is a legal document that requires you to provide testimony or produce documents before a grand jury. Grand juries are used to investigate potential criminal conduct and decide whether there is enough evidence to indict someone.

Step-by-Step Guide on What to Do

1. Stay Calm and Review the Subpoena

When you receive a grand jury subpoena, the first step is to remain calm. Carefully read the document to understand what is being requested of you. A subpoena can demand:

  • Your appearance to testify before the grand jury.
  • The production of documents, records, or other tangible evidence.
  • Both testimony and document production.

The subpoena will typically include the date, time, and location of your required appearance, as well as details about the documents or evidence you need to provide.

2. Contact an Attorney Immediately

One of the most crucial steps is to consult with an attorney who has experience in handling grand jury matters. An attorney can:

  • Explain the subpoena’s implications and your legal obligations.
  • Advise you on how to respond appropriately.
  • Help you understand your rights and any potential risks.
  • Assist in preparing your testimony and gathering the necessary documents.

Legal representation is essential, as grand jury proceedings can lead to serious legal consequences.

3. Preserve All Relevant Documents

Once you receive a subpoena, ensure that you preserve all relevant documents and evidence. Do not destroy, alter, or hide any materials requested in the subpoena, as this can lead to charges of obstruction of justice. Gather and organize the requested documents to facilitate a smooth process.

4. Assess the Scope of the Subpoena

Work with your attorney to assess the scope of the subpoena. This involves:

  • Identifying what documents or evidence are requested.
  • Determining if the subpoena is overly broad or burdensome.
  • Discussing with your attorney whether there are grounds to challenge or narrow the scope of the subpoena.

5. Understand Your Rights and Obligations

Your attorney will help you understand your rights and obligations regarding the grand jury subpoena. Key points to consider include:

  • Fifth Amendment Rights: You have the right against self-incrimination. Your attorney can advise you on when to invoke this right during testimony.
  • Attorney-Client Privilege: Certain communications between you and your attorney may be privileged and protected from disclosure.
  • Confidentiality: Grand jury proceedings are typically confidential. Discuss with your attorney what you can and cannot disclose about the proceedings.

6. Prepare for Testimony

If you are required to testify before the grand jury, preparation is crucial. Your attorney will guide you through the process, including:

  • Reviewing potential questions you might be asked.
  • Practicing your responses to ensure clarity and consistency.
  • Understanding how to handle unexpected or challenging questions.

7. Comply with the Subpoena

It’s essential to comply with the grand jury subpoena. Failure to do so can result in contempt of court charges, which may include fines or imprisonment. If there are any issues with compliance, such as the inability to produce certain documents, communicate this to your attorney and the relevant authorities promptly.

8. Explore Potential Immunity Options

In some cases, individuals who testify before a grand jury may be granted immunity from prosecution based on their testimony. Your attorney can discuss the possibility of seeking immunity and negotiate with the prosecution if appropriate. Immunity can protect you from self-incrimination, allowing you to testify without fear of legal repercussions.

9. Follow Up with Your Attorney

After complying with the subpoena and providing testimony or documents, continue to follow up with your attorney. They can keep you informed about any developments in the grand jury investigation and advise you on any further actions you may need to take.


Receiving a grand jury subpoena can be a stressful experience, but understanding the process and knowing how to respond can alleviate much of the anxiety. By consulting with an experienced attorney, preserving relevant documents, preparing for testimony, and complying with the subpoena’s requirements, you can navigate the legal process effectively and protect your rights.


  1. American Bar Association. (n.d.). What to Do If You Receive a Subpoena.
  2. FindLaw. (n.d.). Grand Jury Subpoenas.
  3. United States Department of Justice. (n.d.). A Guide to Grand Jury Subpoenas.

This guide aims to provide you with a clear understanding of what to do if you receive a grand jury subpoena. While it offers a general overview, it’s important to seek personalized legal advice from a qualified attorney to address your specific situation.