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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