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Should You Talk to Federal Law Enforcement?

By Spodek Law Group | October 6, 2021
(Last Updated On: March 14, 2023)

Last Updated on: 14th March 2023, 09:18 am

Should You Talk to Federal Law Enforcement?
If the government believes that you may have information that’s relevant to an ongoing criminal case, you will likely be contacted by a federal agent. It’s important to note that you have no legal obligation to answer any questions that this person may have. In fact, you may inadvertently incriminate yourself by talking to the government. Generally speaking, it’s in your best interest to ask for a lawyer to be present during any type of conversation with a government representative.
Why Should You Consider Talking to a Federal Agent?
Perhaps the best reason to talk with a federal agent is that it gives you an opportunity to add context to any allegations made against you. For instance, an agent may ask you why your computer’s IP address was found on a server that contained instructions on how to make an explosive device.
Answering the question in a satisfactory manner may help prove your innocence before authorities have reason to charge you with a crime. For example, you could explain that you were doing research for a book or conducting an investigation into your employer’s illegal activity. It may also be possible to present evidence that your computer was hacked and that you never visited such a site.
Why Should You Avoid Talking to Federal Authorities?
Let’s say that you weren’t able to provide a satisfactory answer to the question of why you were on a site that contained illegal content. This may lead authorities to believe that you had something to do with a recent assault on a government agent or cyber attack on a government website.
Of course, you may have been on a questionable site simply because you’re a weapons or technology enthusiast who would never think of harming anyone. However, you now find yourself in a situation where you have to admit to either looking at potentially illegal material or to being part of a conspiracy against the government.
This is one of the biggest reasons why it is in your best interest to ask to have an attorney present prior to talking to the authorities. He or she will be able to help you craft a response to any potentially incriminating questions that you might be asked. If necessary, your attorney will prevent you from answering any questions that might be designed to trap you as opposed to obtaining relevant information.
What Happens If You Refuse to Speak With a Government Representative?
If there is no probable cause to believe that you have committed a crime, nothing will happen after refusing a request to speak with a government agent. However, if there is reason to believe that you have broken the law, you may be taken into custody after declining such a request. In some cases, not talking to the government may lead to a charge of obstructing justice.
In the event that you are charged with obstruction, it’s important to remember that you haven’t been convicted of anything. Furthermore, you should keep in mind that you have the right to remain silent for the duration of the legal process. This means that you don’t have to say anything regardless of what the authorities do to compel you to talk.
Spouses May Have Expanded Fifth Amendment Rights
Generally speaking, you are not required to say anything that might incriminate your spouse. This means that you won’t have to talk to the authorities about something that your wife did or feel compelled to testify against your husband at trial. An attorney will likely be able to provide additional insight into what your rights might be as the spouse of someone who is wanted by the government.
You Always Have the Right to Change Your Mind
As a general rule, the government will be interested in talking to you at almost any point in their investigation. Therefore, if you don’t feel like talking when first contacted, you can reach out to the relevant government agency if you decide to submit a statement. Conversely, you’re generally allowed to stop an interrogation at any point. If an interview is taking place at your home or apartment, stopping an interview may be as easy as asking whoever is questioning you to leave the premises immediately.
If you have been contacted by the federal government, it’s important to remain calm. In most cases, you’ll be given a period of several weeks to decide what your next move will be. It’s important to note that an attorney may be able to answer any questions that you might have about making contact with federal authorities. An attorney may also be able to walk you through the interview process and ensure that your rights are respected throughout it.
Law enforcement agencies and officers have, for years, been viewed negatively by the public eye. A recent publication by the Daily Mail evidences this. The publication states that only 8% of Americans under 30 years old have a great deal of police trust. This is an insufficient number. Such statistics cause eyebrow raises and the question of whether or not you should talk to Federal Law Enforcement Officers. This article seeks to answer this question and more.
Before answering this question, however, it is essential to understand Federal Law Enforcement fully. What is it, and who is involved? Federal Law Enforcement involves several agencies with a primary role in maintaining law and order in New Jersey and the United States. Some of these agencies include:
  • The United States Customs and Border Protection
  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation FBI
  • The Secret Service
  • The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives ATF
  • United States Marshals Services USMS
  • Drug Enforcement Administration DEA
  • The Federal Bureau of Prisons BOP

Officers from these agencies are generally authorized to carry firearms and make arrests.
From an ideal perspective, one should always talk to Federal Law Enforcement. However, realistically and from the statistics and people’s general attitude, this is not the case. Whether a person should or should not talk to law enforcement is highly dependent on specific situations and circumstances. Therefore, there are instances where you should and others where you should not. Some questions to ask yourself before you decide:

  • Are you guilty of an offense at the time when the communication is to be made?
  • Has a crime been committed against you?
  • Is it an issue that requires the involvement of law enforcement?
  • Is your security/safety or that of other people around you when you are to talk compromised?

Why you SHOULD talk to law enforcement in New Jersey

1. Your safety is guaranteed. Early in June, the Attorney General, Gurbir Grewal, directed that all law enforcement agencies in New Jersey begin publicly identifying all law enforcement officers accused of severe disciplinary violations. No law enforcement officer would, therefore, compromise themselves in any way by causing you harm. Therefore, whatever your issue may be, whether for or even against law enforcement, you should speak out without fear.
2. It is illegal not to speak out. This point is specifically about speaking to law enforcement concerning some instances or evidence. For example, if you witness or know something about a crime or a matter under investigation. Not talking to law enforcement about what you know may be considered hiding evidence. Therefore, you risk being charged with obstruction of justice in a court of law if you do not speak.
3. It is the right thing to do. Law enforcement measures are put in place to maintain law and public order and protect you. Therefore, it is only suitable to talk to that put in place for you.
4. You will not be deported. This applies to immigrants. For a long time, immigrants were afraid of speaking out about crimes against them. The Immigrant Trust Directive, however, covers them, and they can, therefore, speak out without fear. This directive aimed to build immigrants’ trust in law enforcement officers and the overall effect to reduce crime in New Jersey.
5. Many measures have been put in place to protect, serve, and build New Jersey residents’ trust. Residents can trust law enforcement to act in their favor and for their excellent. This makes it paramount to talk to law enforcement.

Why you SHOULD NOT talk to law enforcement

Suppose you are guilty of a crime. Law enforcement officers have to uphold the law. Therefore, if you are a criminal and are guilty, many stakes are high against you. Ever heard of the phrase “Whatever you say can and will be used against you in a court of law”? Well, it stands. Therefore, you should be guilty of a crime to not talk to law enforcement before talking to your lawyer. This applies during the time of arrest and even in custody. Do not speak without your criminal lawyer.


Law enforcement is not an enemy to the people but rather a helper. Therefore, it does more good than harm to speak to law enforcement. As seen in the article, it is better to talk to law enforcement in New Jersey. Whether you are answering a routine call, have evidence of something, want to report a crime or have a concern, you should not hold back. Talk to law enforcement.

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