If you learn that you may be involved somehow in a federal investigation, you should exercise caution. Most people involved in federal investigations fear that they are the ones under investigation, but this isn’t always the case. Whether you’re worried that you did something illegal or you are are under the impression the investigation isn’t targeting you, the best way to proceed is to contact an attorney.
Regardless of what situation you may or may not be in, all individuals that are involved in a federal criminal investigation play one of three roles: the target, the witness, or the subject.
Once you have retained an attorney, it is up to them to ascertain your status in the investigation. Your attorney will speak with the prosecutor in charge of the investigation to determine what your role is.
Each role in a federal investigation will require different things from you:
Once you learn what role you pay in an investigation, your attorney will be able to better proceed in assisting you.
If you’re a target, you are in the hot seat. At this point, you’ve likely received a target letter informing you of the pending penalties. However, once you learn of your status as a target, this doesn’t guarantee that you will also learn all the information that the prosecutor has on you.
Once you’ve been selected as a target, it is clear that the grand jury or the prosecutor has enough evidence to link you to a crime. As a target in the investigation, you’ll likely have an idea of why you are being investigated. It is important to share everything you know with your attorney so that they will better be able to protect you in the investigation.
If you have been tied to the criminal activity, you will be classified as a subject in the investigation. This classification is typically the case if the prosecutor can’t yet consider you a target, but has enough evidence to suggest that you have been involved in the criminal activity in some way.
While you may start the investigation off as a subject, you could become a target. similarly, you also may become a witness if it is found that you did nothing wrong. As a subject, you shouldn’t take this status for granted. Be sure to contact a federal criminal attorney to ensure that you are protected during the investigation.
As a witness in a federal investigation, you have information that the prosecutor deems relevant. This might mean that you witnessed a crime or that your testimony can help prove the innocence or guilt of someone else. While being a witness is certainly better than being a target or subject, it is not a role to be taken lightly. If you are a witness, you still need legal counsel.
Retaining a lawyer is your legal right and will help to ensure that the investigation continues to progress in your favor. In certain situations, a witness can become a subject or target if the prosecutor believes that they were somehow involved with the crime.
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