When you are the target of a government investigation, many thoughts run through your mind. Confusion, fear, and uncertainty add up to make you feel powerless and terrified. However, while government investigators are counting on you to be scared enough to do as they say, that is actually the worst thing you can do. Whether you are being investigated by the FBI, IRS, DEA, or other federal agency, the good news is that you have constitutional rights that entitle you to legal protection. But to ensure your case goes as well as possible, it’s important to have a solid understanding of all aspects regarding a government investigation case.
Realizing You Are Under Investigation
When the federal government decides to pursue an investigation against you, it often orchestrates encounters with you that aim to make you confused and disoriented. In many cases, their aim is to make sure you do not have an attorney present when being questioned in these so-called chance encounters. Often coming to your home or place of work, investigators hope to use intimidation to their advantage. However, when faced with these situations, it’s best to not say anything at all until you have an attorney by your side. In addition to their attempts to have you answer numerous questions, prosecutors may send you what’s known as a target letter, which states you are the subject of an investigation. Simultaneously, you may also be served with a subpoena requesting you turn over key documents to investigators. But no matter what may come your way in these matters, it’s vital to never do or say anything to investigators until you have legal representation from an experienced and knowledgeable government investigations lawyer.
Early Morning Searches
If you are the target of a government investigation, be prepared to have federal agents at your door early one morning. Armed with a search warrant, they may knock on your door or use a battering ram to enter your home, attempting to locate documents, photos, computer records, or other information deemed vital to proving their case. Along with the search warrant, agents often bring scripted questions with them for you and your family members, hoping to gain additional information while you are intimidated.
Should I Cooperate?
While many of these situations appear as if you have no choice but to cooperate, the fact is you should make the government’s job as difficult as possible. To begin with, you should remain silent, as should any members of your family. Rather than speaking to agents, you should simply request a search warrant return, which documents all items seized by agents. By taking these measures, you ensure your constitutional rights will be protected, and that your attorney will be able to act as a buffer between you and the federal government.
Penalties for Crimes
While there are various types of crimes that can be investigated by the government, many of them can result in similar penalties. Whether you are convicted of embezzlement, corruption and bribery, drug trafficking, identity theft, or other crimes, the penalties can involve prison time, fines, or a combination of the two. For defendants who have no prior criminal record or one with minimal convictions, probation or a sentence far less than the maximum may be imposed by the court. And contrary to some opinions, defendants found guilty of these crimes do not necessarily serve their sentence in a minimum-security prison. Depending upon the presiding judge and the circumstances surrounding the case, defendants may find themselves in medium or perhaps even a maximum-security prison. Other penalties may include a civil case being brought against a defendant, difficulty finding future employment, and deportation if they are not a United States citizen.
Contacting an Attorney
If you find yourself the target of a government investigation, it’s imperative you retain legal representation as soon as possible. To obtain the best results, hire an attorney skilled in handling these cases. By doing so, you will know what you may be facing and have an attorney who knows how to best prepare for your case. By communicating with your attorney in an honest and straightforward manner, you will give yourself the best chance possible to come out on top.