You may feel powerless, confused, and terrified if you are the target of a federal investigation. Defense attorneys familiar with federal government investigations, can help make the process less mysterious, answer your questions, and walk you step-by-step as we explain what you can expect if you find yourself in this situation.
There are several ways that people learn they are under investigation by the federal government. It is important to remember that federal law enforcement agents often orchestrate encounters with people in an effort to confuse and disorient them into talking without their attorney present.
An agent from a federal law enforcement agency such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Department of Labor (DOL), or the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) may try to speak with you. These agents may come to your home, approach you at the airport, or come to your job.
Also, a prosecutor may send you a “target letter” informing you that you are the subject of a federal investigation. You may be served with a subpoena for documents, also known as a “subpoena duces tecum.” This request will require you to provide the government with the requested documents.
Sometimes the first inkling that you are under a federal investigation is a knock on the door of your home at 6:00 am by federal agents who are there to execute a search warrant. This is a judge or magistrate approved document that purports to contain evidence of probable cause that you have committed a crime and you have documents or other items related to the alleged crime in your possession.
Federal law enforcement agents purposefully show up at your home when you are most likely asleep and more likely to be surprised and disoriented by their entrance. This is sometimes accomplished with a battering ram. The agents often come prepared with scripted questions for you and other unsuspecting family members. These questions are often carefully crafted by prosecutors.
When you are in a situation that has been designed to maximize your distress and to confuse you, the most important thing you can do is remain silent. Neither you nor anyone in your family has an obligation to speak to law enforcement agents. However, you will want to politely request a “search warrant return” which is a document that identifies all items seized by the agents.
Also, if you have an attorney, you should attempt to contact them, although it may be difficult to reach them if the search is conducted extremely early in the morning. This is part of the reason agents’ choose to conduct searches at this hour. You should not be frustrated by your inability to reach your attorney. All you need to do is politely decline to answer any questions posed by the agents.
If you have not already done so, your next step should be to hire an attorney with extensive experience representing people in federal or white collar cases. Your attorney will reach out to the investigating agent and prosecutor to let them know that you are represented, and that all future attempts to communicate with you need to instead be directed to your attorney.
Look for a white collar defense attorney with extensive experience defending clients against federal government investigations as well as state level criminal offenses. Consult with a federal government investigations lawyer to learn more about what you are facing and how to prepare.
You need to work with your attorney to collect information, including documents or emails that are relevant to the investigation. You should speak with your attorney about anything that you know. The more information your attorney has, the better-equipped they will be to mount the strongest possible defense. Call our office today to schedule your free initial consultation.