A federal or state agent or detective knocks on your door at 6 a.m. and serves you with a grand jury subpoena for documents and/or testimony. Do you simply gather the documents requested and send them to the U.S. Attorney’s Office or the County Prosecutor’s Office, or do you retain experienced criminal defense counsel? If the subpoena requires testimony, what rights do you have?
Rick Gates, Paul Manafort’s former business partner, is the star witness in the first trial resulting from the Special Counsel’s Russia collusion investigation in federal court in Virginia. Gates pled guilty to felony charges and agreed to testify against Manafort in an effort to receive a substantially reduced sentence. The government and defense agree on one thing – the cooperating defendant/witness is guilty of financial crimes, moral misdeeds and has lied repeatedly in the past. Despite that, Gates is on the witness stand, under oath testifying as a government witness in a highly publicized trial of great public interest.
The police stop you for an alleged driving infraction – speeding, failure to stay in lane, tinted windows – and while talking with you the officer smells the odor of marijuana. The officer asks you to step out of the car, searches the car and finds drugs. You contact a criminal defense attorney to defend you and explore the possibility of a motion to suppress the search. If you are the driver of a personal vehicle or the owner, you have what is known as an expectation of privacy and “standing” to suppress the search. However, if you are a passenger of the vehicle, or the driver of a rental car that was rented by a friend or family member and you are not listed on the rental agreement, you may lack standing to challenge the search of the vehicle.
Every day we are bombarded with news about the ever-expanding investigation into the President and the alleged Russian connection to his staff. The news media has been filled with headlines and postings about people who are labeled a “person of interest,” a “subject,” a “target” or a “witness”. Do these terms have specific meanings to federal law enforcement? Yes and no. In the federal system, the term “person of interest” is not officially used. It’s use became widespread by some in law enforcement and the media back in 1996 during the Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta when it was announced that a security guard was a person of interest in the bombing. It euphemistically means that someone has suspicions about the person but not sufficient evidence. There are, however, very specific Department of Justice definitions for a target, subject or witness of an investigation.