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Targets, Subjects, And Witnesses In Federal Investigations

November 6, 2020 New Jersey Criminal Lawyers

Federal criminal investigations are often quite challenging to sort through. Identifying such crimes, in addition to those who might have committed these acts often necessitates prosecutors travel down all possible avenues.

Many individuals may prove part and parcel to these proceedings. Said persons are often differentiated into three categories, targets, witnesses, and subjects. Each possesses varying degrees of involvement but could play critical roles in the cessation of illegal acts the conviction of guilty parties.

The team of federal criminal defense attorneys working for the New Jersey-based Spodek Law Firm invites those interested in learning more about the federal criminal process gain a greater understanding of how prosecutors view those identified as targets, witnesses, and subjects.


Prosecutors often view targets as potential suspects. In numerous instances, government attorneys possess discernible evidence pointing to a target’s involvement in the crime under investigation. In fact, prosecutors might be so sure of a target’s role in a given offense that they might be on the verge of levying charges against them.

The government will notify someone they have been named a target in one of the following ways:

Target Letter

Sometimes, prosecutors will remit said individuals official government documents called target letters. These correspondences will contain important information including the acts the individual in question is suspected of being involved in and an invitation to discuss the matter with prosecutors.

Search Warrants

Federal authorities might obtain court-approved permission to search the person of interest’s home or business. This official documentation is known as a search warrant.


Witnesses are individuals thought to possess pertinent information about some type of federal crime. For example, they might have viewed an one committing a specific offense or have access to crucial evidence. Typically, witnesses are not considered hostile but potentially useful to furthering the investigation.


Prosecutors view subjects as those who have likely perpetrated a criminal act or possess significant information about the offense under investigation. However, unlike targets, they are not immediate persons of interest.

The Importance Of Hiring An Attorney

Anyone placed into one of these categories is encouraged to promptly seek legal representation. That said, such individuals should only retain an experienced federal criminal lawyer’s services. These professionals understand the many nuances of federal cases.

Those named targets are often in significant trouble necessitating a federal defense attorney’s immediate intervention. As previously stated, targets are major persons of interest the government has abundant evidence against and will likely press charges.

However, astute legal representation will, first and foremost, prevent their client from incriminating themselves. Moreover, talented federal defense attorneys might also be able to work out some type of deal with prosecutors.

As a case in point, the defense team could convince their client to turn from target to witness. Prosecutors might agree to such terms if the targeted individual possesses significant and irrefutable evidence. Under such circumstances, the target might be offered immunity, granting them protection against further prosecution or be guaranteed less severe penalties.

Though witnesses will not likely face any type of legal repercussions, they should retain a federal defense lawyer’s services. As a case progresses, a witness’s involvement could prove more valuable.

Therefore, representation by an experienced criminal attorney will help shepherd them through a stressful and often confusing process and prevent them from engaging in any actions that could harm themselves or the proceedings.

Subjects typically have checkered histories and might possess some involvement in the specific federal case under investigation. That said, it is crucial to reiterate that, unlike targets, they are not the primary suspects.

However, such persons are urged to retain legal representation. Prosecutors are usually well-informed of a subject’s past and potential involvement in the pending case and might not hesitate to slap federal charges on uncooperative subjects.

Well-rounded defense attorneys will keep a prosecutor’s attention off the subject. Said legal minds might also be able to encourage their client to cooperate, which could inspire prosecutors to forget about their involvement in the federal case or other offenses they may have committed.

Contacting Spodek Law Firm

Involvement is a federal criminal investigation can be an overwhelming experience. That said, the actions one facing such events takes could have a significant bearing on their future. Therefore, anyone charged with a federal crime or has been classified as a target, witness, or subject in such proceedings should consult with the Spodek Law Firm as soon as possible.

Our team has seen these circumstances countless times and possess the acumen to shepherd clients through the confusion and negative emotions such experiences often yield. Further information about our practice and attorneys can be found by accessing



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