It may be unsettling to find out that you are among the targets of a federal government investigation. However, it’s important to understand that simply being the target of an investigation doesn’t mean that you’ve done anything wrong. It’s also important to note that you have rights that must be respected throughout the legal process. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the first steps that you should take after learning of your status as a person of interest in a federal case.
You Don’t Have to Respond Right Away
There is a chance that you’ll receive notice that you are the target of an investigation through the mail. You may also receive a phone call inquiring about your availability to sit down for an interview. In such a scenario, you will probably have a few days or weeks to decide what you want to do.
If you are confronted by the authorities at your home, place of business or anywhere else, you may be asked to join them as they return to local headquarters. However, it’s important to understand that you do not need to say anything to anyone who is not your attorney.
Regardless of how you are contacted, your first move should be to hire an attorney who can provide more insight into what the government might want. A legal adviser will also be able to sit with you during an informal interview or interrogation. This may minimize the risk that you say anything that might implicate you in the case.
Obtain Any Evidence That Might Help Clear Your Name
There may be many lines of evidence that can be used to help you eliminate yourself as a person of interest in a federal investigation. For instance, you might be able to use copies of old social media posts to prove that you were out of the country when a domestic drug deal took place. It might also be possible to use bank statements to show that you weren’t laundering money or engaging in other forms of financial crimes.
Although these pieces of evidence may not be enough to avoid prosecution, it may help you build a defense to whatever charges the government may bring. Your attorney will likely be able to use social media posts, bank statements or other documents to create a favorable narrative in the matter. If successful, the narrative that your legal adviser creates will help convince jurors that you shouldn’t be penalized too harshly for your actions.
Don’t Talk About the Case Publicly
As a general rule, you don’t want to say or do anything that might give the government reason to believe that you’ve committed a crime. Therefore, it is in your best interest to avoid talking about the case to friends, family members or the media. It’s also a good idea to avoid posting to social media sites as you don’t know who may be following your account.
If you do feel the need to make a statement, you should do so through your attorney. This will help to ensure that anything that is released to the public portrays you in a positive light. Furthermore, your legal counsel will understand how to talk to the public without saying anything that might imply that you took part in an illegal activity.
You should know that anything that is said to your attorney is considered to be privileged information. Therefore, you don’t have to remain silent when in this person’s presence. In fact, you will be encouraged to be as honest as possible about your potential involvement in the case as it can make it easier for your legal adviser to do his or her job.
If you are the target of a federal investigation, it’s important that you don’t give the government a reason to charge you with a crime. Ideally, the first thing that you’ll do after finding out that you’re being investigated is to hire an attorney. A legal professional can help you gather documents, make statements to the public or take other steps that may allow you to obtain a favorable outcome in your case. If you are convicted of a crime, your legal counsel may be able to file an appeal on your behalf.
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Once you find out that you are involved in a federal investigation, the steps that you take next are very crucial. This is because these steps might be the difference between you staying a free person and you losing that freedom. Most people, even the most enlightened ones tend to make mistakes once they realize that they are part of a federal investigation. These mistakes can be fatal as they may lead you to ruin your chances of being granted bail in case your case gets to federal court.
The mistakes people make when they realize they are part of a federal investigation is usually as a result of pressure. The federal investigators are trained to “shake the tree and wait to see what falls.” This means that they will spook you and wait to see if you act suspicious just to confirm their suspicions on you. They expect that if you are guilty or have something to hide if you realize you are under investigation you will panic. Once you have panicked, you are bound to do something stupid that will aid their investigations. You will be aiding the federal agents to find evidence against you if you get spooked once you hear they are investigating you. It’s like digging your own grave. Here is what to do first if you are involved in a federal investigation.
Hire an experienced lawyer
It’s important that once you realize that you are part of a federal investigation, you go ahead and hire a lawyer with a lot of experience in this particular field. It’s vital that you know that hiring a good lawyer might take time so you should get to it as soon as possible. Find the lawyer who has specialized in defending persons charged with the offenses that you are being investigated for. If it’s a white-collar crime, don’t hire a divorce lawyer. The experience of the lawyer you hire is very crucial as it might just keep you out of jail.
Also, make sure the lawyer you are hiring is well educated and a good communicator. A lawyer who knows how to communicate well will not only be good in defending you in a federal court if that’s where the investigation leads, but also keep you up to date with the state of your case. Getting a good lawyer needs money, so, be prepared on that front too. For more insight on how to hire a superb lawyer, click here.
Whether you here from a friend or a colleague that a federal agent was asking about you or they approach you directly, you need to prepare psychologically. This preparation is much easier to do if you know in advance that a federal agent is investigating you. If you are lucky to know in advance, you can surely know why they are asking about, and you can have time to prepare for when they finally come to you.
If the federal agents ambush you, take a moment to compose yourself. Once you are composed think of what is the best option for you. If you are unable to answer the agent’s questions at the heat of the moment, you can suggest that you reschedule the meeting. You can be sure that the agents will try to make you as uncomfortable as they can, but if you are not ready you rather not answer any to their questions. This will be better than tying yourself down because you were not prepared mentally. For in-depth coverage on whether or not you should talk to the agents, click here.
Prepare for the worst
Once you have your defense lawyer, they can contact the prosecutor and get to know your status in the investigation. In any investigation, there is three status that as a person of interest in a case you might be. These are a witness, subject, or target. At the beginning of the investigation you might be a witness, and as the investigation goes on and more information comes to light, you can easily turn in to a subject or target. This is a position you must not create room for it to happen. Given that the investigation can take any turn, it’s crucial that you prepare for the worst. To learn more about status, click here.
Be honest with your lawyer
One of the things that many people under investigations make is they don’t open up to their lawyers. No matter what the charge or offense is or what details you might be hiding, it’s important that you are truthful with your lawyer. This will help you stay ahead of the investigation and avoid any surprises by the investigators that may get your lawyer unprepared. It’s also essential that you listen to your lawyer’s advice. For information on the don’t do’s when you realize you are under federal investigation, click here.
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