What is a Grand Jury Subpoena and How Does it Differ From Other Subpoenas?

Grand Jury Subpoena

A grand jury subpoena differs from other subpoenas for the very reason that it’s issued by a grand jury—a group of citizens charged with investigating potential criminal activity. Grand juries issue subpoenas to obtain evidence or testimony that will assist them with their investigations.

Unlike other subpoenas, a grand jury subpoena is served in secret. Because grand jury subpoenas are presented by prosecutors in a criminal investigation, recipients cannot refuse to comply. Here is everything you should know about a grand jury subpoena and what you should do if you receive one.

What is a Grand Jury Subpoena?

Grand jury subpoenas are subpoenas to gather evidence during a criminal investigation. Grand jury subpoenas are classified into subpoenas ad testificandum and subpoenas duces tecum.

  • Subpoena ad testificandum or Witness Subpoena – This subpoena requires a person or entity through its designated representative, to testify before a grand jury.
  • Subpoena duces tecum or Subpoena for the Production of Documents – This subpoena requires the production of documents relevant to a case.

If you’ve been served with a grand jury subpoena, it means the government believes you have information relevant to a federal criminal case. It’s vital that you understand your rights and obligations after being subpoenaed. Consider retaining a skilled federal criminal defense lawyer to provide you with personalized legal counsel and to advocate on your behalf.

Can You Challenge a Grand Jury Subpoena?

The overarching reason a person or entity is served with a grand jury subpoena is that they have pertinent evidence related to a lawsuit. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to know if you’re the criminal suspect or only required to give information relevant to a case.

It can also prove challenging to obtain information about the nature of the subpoena from the prosecutor’s office. If you’ve been subpoenaed, consult an experienced criminal defense lawyer. They can communicate with the prosecutor’s office and may be able to obtain information about the investigation.

Non-compliance with a grand jury subpoena can also result in contempt of court charges. But, grounds to dispute a grand jury subpoena exist, for example, if it was improperly served or if:

  • The information requested would infringe on your Fifth Amendment rights.
  • The petitioned documents are irrelevant to the case or privileged information.
  • Compliance would cause unjustified embarrassment or undue burden at your expense.

To challenge a subpoena, recipients may file a motion to quash it or object to specifically requested documents. 

Hire Professional Criminal Defense Lawyers from Warren Law Group for Legal Representation

Failing or refusing to respond to a grand jury subpoena is a serious matter chargeable with contempt of court crime. Non-compliance without valid legal reasons may cause you to be subject to fines, monetary sanctions, imprisonment, or an order to pay attorney fees. Should your subpoena call for the production of privileged information, our attorneys may attempt to quash it.

Contact the Warren Law Group today and speak to one of our Government Investigation Lawyers for a free initial consultation to enable you to determine the best course of action for your unique circumstances.



Warren Law Group defends individuals and companies in all types of litigation. Our team has decades of experience in all types of litigation, white collar defense, securities litigation, and financial services enforcement proceedings.