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The Spodek Law Group understands how delicate high-profile cases can be, and has a strong track record of getting positive outcomes. Our lawyers service a clientele that is nationwide. With offices in both LA and NYC, and cases all across the country - Spodek Law Group is a top tier law firm.

Todd Spodek is a second generation attorney with immense experience. He has many years of experience handling 100’s of tough and hard to win trials. He’s been featured on major news outlets, such as New York Post, Newsweek, Fox 5 New York, South China Morning Post, Insider.com, and many others.

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What Not to Do If You Are Under Federal Investigation

By Spodek Law Group | October 7, 2021
(Last Updated On: February 26, 2023)

If you’re being investigated by the government, then you know that there are things that you should do in order to cooperate so that you aren’t charged with any further crimes. However, there are also a few things that you should keep in mind that you shouldn’t do if you’re under a federal investigation so that you don’t spend more time in prison or receive other charges. Keep in mind that a federal investigation is a bit different than one that you might go through with a state or city official.

When you learn that you’re under investigation by the federal government, you should avoid talking to anyone aside from your attorney. Even if you’re talking to your family members or your best friends, you don’t need to mention anything about the investigation. The things that you discuss with the investigators should be kept between yourself and the officers. However, you should consider talking to an attorney so that you have someone in your corner who can advise you as to what could happen in court and how to proceed with your trial. Your attorney can listen to the evidence that has been submitted against you and listen to your side of the story to determine the best way to proceed with the case, such as accepting a plea deal or fighting with defenses against the prosecution. An obstruction of justice charge could be knocking on your doorstep if you do talk to other people. You could also try to get others to change pieces of information in order to suit your trial, which could result in charges as well. This is sometimes done when people are trying to find witnesses and want to persuade them to remember facts a certain way instead of the real way in which they occurred. If you talk to someone about your investigation, then the person could be subpoenaed to go to court. Officers can also talk to those you talk to and discover that you’ve tried to change the details about the investigation.

Another thing that you shouldn’t do if you’re under a federal investigation is to destroy documents about your case. You will likely be given documents from the investigators about your charges. These should be given to your attorney to keep in a file as they can help in your case when you go to court. If there are any documents that you already have pertaining to your case, you should try to keep them in a file as well. These details can sometimes be beneficial for your case when you go to court, especially if they offer an alibi for the charges that you have received or if there is information pertaining to someone else possibly committing the crime instead of you. If you have documents that present evidence against you, then you should keep these as well, giving them to your attorney so that you can plan a defense that is in your benefit. If you do destroy anything that could be considered as evidence, then you could be charged with obstruction of justice. This means that you could spend more time in prison or be subject to higher fines.

Electronic devices including computers and phones often have details on them that federal investigators can easily find. Sometimes, it’s this information that can lead to your charges or the reason as to why you’re under an investigation. If you try to destroy the electronic evidence against you, don’t think that you’re in the clear as federal officials can easily track down these details. The only way that you would be able to destroy this kind of evidence would be to destroy the hard drive of the device. However, if investigators have already discovered information, then they likely have their own copies and don’t care about the hard drive of your device. You should also avoid altering the information on your files as this could result in just as many issues as deleting documents.
Keep in mind that you should avoid talking to people. However, if you talk to someone, it should only be your attorney. If you do let something slip about the details of your charges, then you need to tell the truth about all aspects in the event that they are asked to testify in the case.

It may be unsettling to learn that you are the target of a federal investigation. However, if you panic, you could make a mistake that might diminish your chances of clearing your name. Let’s take a look at some of the actions that you won’t want to take while the government is looking into your affairs.

Do Not Wait to Hire an Attorney
Ideally, you will hire an attorney the moment that you learn that the government thinks that you have committed a crime. Although you may think that taking this step makes you look guilty, it can actually be the one thing that helps you remain a free man or woman. An attorney will likely be able to help you secure documents, be there with you when you talk to the feds and take other steps to protect your interests. It’s worth noting that you will likely need to pay legal fees out of your own pocket as you aren’t entitled to legal counsel until you’re actually charged with a crime.

Do Not Talk About the Case to Anyone Other Than Your Attorney
Anything that you say can be used against you during the process of an investigation. If you are charged with a crime, anything that you say while you are merely a person of interest could be used as evidence of your guilt. Therefore, you do not want to say anything about the matter to your friends, family members or anyone else who may be willing to relay your message to investigators. Your attorney will likely advise you to stay off of social media as you can be sure that investigators will be following all of your accounts.

Avoid Significant Transfers of Funds or Tangible Property
In most cases, banks are required to report transactions of more than $10,000 to the IRS. Therefore, the government will know if you withdraw what it considers to be a significant amount of money from a bank account. The government will also know if you transfer a large sum of money between accounts or deposit cash into an account that belongs to a friend, family member or associate.

Furthermore, sales of personal property such as a car, boat or home will also be recorded by local or state authorities. Therefore, whoever is leading an investigation into you will know about your effort to potentially cut ties with your community. While a large cash transfer, the sale of your home or other transactions may be legitimate, they might also be seen as evidence that you may be planning to evade authorities in the future.

Therefore, it’s in your best interest to avoid making any type of transaction that could pique a government agency’s interest. At a minimum, your attorney should retain all records related to a large withdrawal, sale of a home or anything else that may be deemed as suspicious. Doing so may make it easier to prove that you weren’t taking steps to potentially flee the country or otherwise hinder the investigation.

Do Not Destroy Important Records
You may be tempted to shred papers, erase servers or take other steps to get rid of information that may paint you in a negative light. However, it’s important to note that taking these steps will generally lead investigators to believe that you are engaging in a coverup. This could lead to additional charges that may carry stiffer penalties than the crimes the government already believes that you have committed.

Furthermore, the government has tools that may be able to restore any electronic data that is wiped from a server. It may also be possible to obtain data wiped from phones, tablets or similar devices. Therefore, your efforts to conceal information will likely cause you more harm than good. It’s also worth noting that destroying evidence may also get rid of information that might help to exonerate you.

In some cases, simply being the target of a federal government investigation can cause damage to your personal and professional reputations. Therefore, it’s important that you take the fact that you are a person of interest seriously. Ideally, you’ll hire an attorney who may be able to take steps to help you clear your name and maintain your reputation as a positive member of your community.

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