Johnson City, TN asked in Criminal Law for Tennessee

Q: Does the defendant need legal counsel during grand jury proceedings?

Example: A felony case bound over to the Grand Jury to determine an indictment. It's my understand that the defense will not be allowed to be present. The Prosecutor, witnesses and grand jury members are the only persons present at the grand jury proceedings is my understanding. Can you clarify if the defendant will be required at the grand jury proceedings? I am asking because an attorney is requiring a $10K retainer and if the grand jury finds no cause for an indictment the defendant would no longer need an attorney going forward. Hence the $10K paid is lost and no services were rendered from the defense attorney. Thanks

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2 Lawyer Answers

Marcus Lipham

  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Jackson, TN
  • Licensed in Tennessee

A: Typically, the defendant is completely excluded from the grand jury process and shouldn't need an attorney until the grand jury indicts them. Here's the lawyer part... however, I have heard of technical issues where an attorney for a defendant was allowed to set in during the grand jury process. I've never verified that but was told that by a respected Tennessee attorney. But the typical process is sit back and wait on the grand jury process.

1 user found this answer helpful

Lawrence James Arnkoff

  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Brentwood, TN
  • Licensed in Tennessee

A: My answer may be little unconventional but I think it is practical. I have represented quite a few clients

in federal grand jury matters. In state cases the defendant either agreed to bind the case over voluntarily,

a general sessions judge bound it over at a probable cause hearing or the District Attorney submitted it to the

Grand Jury after a general sessions judge found no probable cause. The defendant will not in most cases appear before the grand jury but there are occasions when they can petition for permission to do so.

You are really trying to figure out if it is prudent to give a retainer to the lawyer before the grand jury meets.

It is a very good question. Since the defendant will almost certainly be indicted perhaps the attorney

is quoting the retainer fee for representation when the indictment is actually filed. I would suggest

you wait until the indictment is filed before retaining the attorney or you have the attorney put a clause

in a written fee agreement that in the event the grand jury declines filing an indictment the retainer

will be refunded immediately.

1 user found this answer helpful

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