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What to Do First If You Get A Target Letter

October 11, 2021 Federal Criminal Attorneys

When you receive a target letter, you may not know whether you are a “witness” to the investigation, the “subject” of the investigation or the “target” of the investigation. If you are a “witness,” the government is asking you to provide information that can help them with their investigation. If you are a “subject,” you committed actions that the government believes would make you subject to a grand jury investigation. If you are a “target,” the federal government has a copious amount of evidence that connects you to the crime that they are investigating.

Since you are receiving this target letter, there is a possibility that you will be indicted. So, the first thing that you need to do is hire a federal defense attorney. The federal government sends you a target letter to let you know that you are currently under investigation and that you may be charged with a crime.

What Is a Target Letter?

The government begins to collect evidence in its case, and one way in which it does this is by sending people target letters. For example, a target letter informs you that the government requests that you visit the assistant U.S. attorney or testify before a grand jury.

You can expect the target letter to contain several pieces of information, including the following:

  • The crime that is being investigated.
  • The federal statutes that you are alleged to have broken.
  • A list of the rights you have during the investigation.
  • Deadlines that pertain to your case.

What Is the First Thing You Must Do after You Receive a Target Letter?

You must respond to this letter. If you fail to do so, you will be subject to receiving severe penalties. However, this does not mean that you should talk to federal authorities at this time. The federal criminal defense attorney you hire will do the talking for you. If you do speak to the federal authorities, you can explain to them that you would like to help them with their investigation but that you will only do so when you have a criminal defense attorney.

You have the right to remain silent, and you have the right to an attorney. Exercise both of those rights. If you were to lie to the investigators, they may charge you with obstruction of justice, so just remain silent. The target letter may arrive after you decline to be interviewed during the initial questioning.

Your target letter may contain deadlines. These deadlines are often related to documents that the federal government will require you to submit to the grand jury. This letter will also inform you of very important information, such as where you need to go to give your testimony, when you need to go and at what time.

This is also the time when you need to assist your attorney with your defense. If you have documents that are relevant to the case, make sure that you gather those so that you can present them to your attorney. Any assistance that you can give to your attorney would be extremely helpful. The evidence that you may find in your possession may be evidence that could hurt your case. You must not destroy this evidence! If you do, the federal government can charge you with obstruction of justice and other criminal charges.

Remember that the only person you should speak to about this case is your criminal defense attorney. At the top of the list of people not to speak to would be federal agents, but you must also not speak to other law enforcement officials and the people you work with in your office. Most importantly, do not share anything on social media! Federal agents may check your presence on the internet, and if they see anything incriminating on your social media posts, they will use this against you. If you need to talk to someone about your case, make sure that you only do this when your attorney is present.

The Investigation

One or more of several government agencies may investigate the crime in question. These include the following:

  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement
  • The job of ICE is to protect American citizens from foreign criminals and illegal immigrants.
  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • The FBI protects American citizens from terrorist attacks and foreign intelligence threats.
  • The best thing to do first after receiving a target letter is hire a criminal defense attorney so that your attorney can get started on your defense immediately.

What To Do First If You Get A Target Letter

Have you ever received a target letter? If you have never received, it is most likely you do not understand what it is. A target letter is a written document sent by the United States attorney to an individual stating that they are a target of a federal criminal investigation. It is a letter that asks you to co-operate by providing the assistance needed to complete the investigations. In the letter will be information on what federal crimes you are facing and what they would like you to do as a measure of cooperation. Before a target letter is sent to you, the chances are that an agent from an investigating body will have contacted you.

If you received a target letter from a federal prosecutor saying that you are a subject of an investigation by a grand jury, there are some steps that you need to take immediately. These are steps that will ensure that you are in a position to respond adequately to the demands of the prosecutor.

Hire a lawyer

It is common that whenever you find yourself under investigation or facing charges, you will need to hire the services of a lawyer. However, it is possible that if you are reading this article, you are already in the process of hiring a lawyer. Maybe you are asking yourself how you will find a lawyer who will help you to deal with the charges facing you. If you know how to hire a good lawyer, then you’ll be on your way to responding appropriately to the target letter.

The process of hiring a lawyer should be based on the crimes you are being investigated for. If you are facing a federal criminal investigation, you’ll need to have the services of a federal criminal defense lawyer who is adequately furnished with knowledge on how to deal with such issues. If it is bank fraud, you need the services of a lawyer who has experience in that field. It’s also important to take into consideration that there are thousands of statute under the U.S Justice System and they are applied differently depending on the jurisdiction. So, it is important to hire a lawyer who is familiar with the statute of your area.

Do you respond to the target letter?

Whenever you receive a target letter, there is without a doubt something that the prosecutor won’t you to do. The letter might be asking you to present yourself for a meeting with the team investigating the matter you are associated with. Others will ask you to present yourself before a grand jury to give a testimony. Some target letters will ask you to hire the services of a lawyer who will then contact the prosecutor. Regardless of the request contained in the target letter, the prudent decision to make is to hire a lawyer who will, in turn, contact the prosecutor on your behalf. Do not attempt it call the prosecutor by yourself since you might not understand the legal implication of your actions. The prosecutor can use such an opportunity to corner you into a position that will negatively affect your defense.

A target

In any case of a federal criminal investigation, the people involved are classified into three categories namely subject, witness and target. If you are identified as a target, it means that the investigators are looking into your conduct. The investigating agency considers you as the person responsible for the crime committed. If you are a subject, it means that the federal agents have identified you with the crime committed, but they need you to provide information that they believe you might possess, but that does not necessarily mean that you are to be prosecuted. Clearly, you do not want to be a target since you are likely to be the one facing charges in a court of law.

What will happen?

When the government sends you a target letter, it might be asking you to join them at the negotiating table so that you can take a plea and avoid a situation where you will be formally indicted. In this case, the prosecutor will provide some information but not as much as what would happen in a court of law. At this stage, you and your lawyer should consider the information that the government has and what is likely to happen if the case goes to trial. In case you take the plea, chances are that the government will not press charges in court.

If the government has no intentions of prosecuting you, your lawyers will liaise with the prosecutor and later with you with the aim of making a presentation and why the prosecution should not initiate charges against you. It is the role of the lawyer to cushion the client from the prosecution at the earliest possible stage. It is therefore important to get a qualified lawyer who understands these issues.

The fact that you have received a target letter does not mean that you’ll ever be prosecuted. You can receive it yet nothing will ever happen to you. Maybe the prosecutor was reassigned to another case or retired.



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