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Grand Jury Proceedings

What should I do if I receive a target letter from a Grand Jury?

In Bernalillo County and several other counties in the state, criminal charges are brought by grand juries. A grand jury target letter will generally inform you that you are the subject of a grand jury inquiry and have the right to appear and give testimony. You should contact an attorney immediately if you receive this type of letter. In many instances you will be advised not to appear in front of the grand jury. Also, if appropriate, your attorney may be able to negotiate a pre-indictment plea on your behalf. You should never appear in front of a grand jury without first obtaining legal advice.

Can I testify and present evidence to the Grand Jury?

While you do have the right to testify at Grand Jury proceedings, it is usually not advisable to do so. The actual Grand Jury proceeding, is not conducive to a proper preparation of the defense case. For example, your attorney is not allowed to call, question, or cross-examine witnesses, or to introduce evidence to the Grand Jury.

This does not mean, however, that you cannot influence the Grand Jury. The laws in New Mexico have recently changed, to expand the type of information that a prosecuting attorney must present to the Grand Jury. In many cases, your attorney will be presenting questions for the prosecutor to ask State’s witnesses, as well as providing other information that may help to establish your innocence.

Can I obtain a copy of my Grand Jury proceedings?

Yes. Grand Jury proceedings are required by law to be tape-recorded. Your attorney can obtain copies of the Grand Jury tapes after the Grand Jury has completed its proceedings. Often, your attorney may use testimony that was presented at the Grand Jury as part of his/her investigation of the case, or to use that testimony to your advantage at trial.

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