When a federal worker is under investigation by the federal government, they’ll mostly be contacted by the Office of Inspector General informing them of an investigation that is being carried out. In most cases, an OIG agent will call you and ask you for an interview or will give you a visit at your workplace. Once an agent is in contact with you, you will receive a warning about the information you’ll give while answering questions. A federal employee who is under investigation by the Office of Inspector General should be worried that they may lose their job due to a possible administrative action and at the same time, they may face charges for a criminal case. There is a close connection between these two consequences. The agent investigating you will have a significant say on whether you will lose your job and face criminal charges.
In most cases, when a federal employee engages an OIG agent, there are two kinds of warnings that will be laid out. These two warnings are very important and need to be taken with the seriousness. It is also important to note that there is a difference between these two warnings and the difference says a lot about the investigations and the federal employee. The first one is called Garrity warning. It is derived from the Supreme Court case “Garrity v. New Jersey.” The other warning is known as Kalkines warning, derived from a case heard at the Court of Federal Claims named ”Kalkines v. United States.”
Before an interview which involves investigations, it is common for law enforcement agencies to inform the accused of the Miranda warnings. Simply, Miranda warnings say that “you have the right to remain silent, and anything that you say can be used against you.” It continues to outline that you have the right to legal representation by a lawyer and if you cannot hire your personal lawyer, they can provide you with one. Anytime a law enforcement agent attempts to do something equivalent to arresting or actually arresting someone; they are supposed to read out the Miranda warnings.
When many people are dealing with an OIG agent, they tend to be confused since they do not understand the ground rules involved in such a case. Many people are accustomed to the Miranda warnings since they are mainly carried out when someone has been booked in a police station. For an OIG agent, scheduled interview can happen without being booked in a police station, so how are you supposed to respond to such an interview.
Under this warning, a federal employee is asked to provide information, and that relates to the investigation. The interview is conducted voluntarily, and therefore you are not supposed to answer to questions that may make you a target in the investigations. If you refuse to answer the questions, no disciplinary action can be taken against you. However, you should understand that your silence may be misconstrued as evidence of your involvement. Any information provided can be used as evidence in case of administrative proceedings or court when facing criminal charges.
Under Garrity warnings, the IOG agent has the liberty to use the information provided, in a criminal case. So, if you are worried about the consequences of possible criminal charges or administrative action, by hearing this warning, you can consider being careful with what you reveal to the IOG agent.
If you are being investigated for administrative or internal matters, you will be asked questions that relate to your official duties. You are required to answer these questions in the best way you can. If you fail to answer the questions truthfully, disciplinary action such as dismissal can be taken against you. The information revealed can be used as evidence in administrative proceedings. However, the information you reveal and that derived from the answers you give cannot be used in criminal proceedings. However, there is a caveat that if you knowingly and willingly give false statements, such information can still be used in criminal charges.
Kalkines warning is normally arrived at after an OIG agent has liaised with a federal prosecutor to arrive at the decision that information revealed may not be needed in a federal criminal case. The unfortunate thing about Kalkines warning is that your job is on the line in case you fail to co-operate.
How to Respond when an OIG Agent Wants to Talk
If you are under investigation, one of the ways to know about it is when you get a visit by an OIG agent. OIG stands for the Office of Inspector General. OIG agents are normally used in a case where a federal employee is accused of engaging in federal criminal activity. So, you could be seated at your desk in your office working diligently and helping customers as a federal employee when an OIG agent walks into your office and asks to talk to you. In other cases, the agent might send you an email asking for a meeting or might even contact you through your supervisor at your workplace. Another way of an agent contacting you is calling your office number directly to inform you of a pending federal investigation.
When you learn that you are under federal investigation by receiving information from an OIG agent, what do you do?
It is expected that after learning that you are under federal investigation, such a matter has a possibility of making you stressed. So, you should just take a breath as you figure out what steps to take. Many people find themselves in trouble because they rush to make bad decisions out of frustrations. Being contacted by an IOG agent is not something that many people would look forward to and therefore it is expected you will become emotional immediately you receive a call or an email from Office of Inspector General. If the agent has personally approached you in your office, it is a moment where you’ll be required to make the right decision immediately. One of the biggest mistakes that one can do is to respond to the agent in the heat of the moment. It is advisable to take some minutes to relax as you absorb the challenge ahead of you. You can even ask the agent give you some time to think before talking to them. You can ask for a day or even a week to prepare yourself adequately. It is best for you to have some space to think through the matter before talking to the agent.
Do you want to talk?
If you decided to talk to the urgent, it is prudent to first and listen carefully to what they have to tell you. Make sure that before uttering a word you have understood what they have against you. Sometimes, they can give warnings about what is likely to occur in case you fail to corporate. In a case where you are under duress to talk, it is common that you will feel the pressure and you might mess up your case. If the agent came through your supervisor, you can ask whether it is mandatory for you to talk to the agent. Verify with your supervisor whether there are any bad consequences in case you decline to speak to the agent. You do not want to put yourself at crossroads where you lose your job while under federal investigations.
Anytime you find yourself under federal investigation, one of the early measures to take is to hire the services of a federal criminal lawyer. You do not want to put yourself in a position where you respond to legal issues by yourself. With the assistance of a lawyer, you will receive relevant counsel that will help you in responding adequately to your case. Before hiring a lawyer, it is important to understand the reason behind the investigations. It is at such a point that you’ll be in a position to hire a lawyer specializing in a particular field. For example, if you are facing investigation for a fraud case, you should seek the services of a lawyer who has experience from helping other clients in similar cases. It is also important to pick a lawyer who understands the legal statutes in your area. The U.S. Justice System has over 4000 statutes applied under different jurisdictions. You need to be sure that the lawyer you are hiring has sufficient experience practicing in your area.
Once you know that an OIG agent is looking for you, you definitely know that there is a federal investigation taking place and you are involved. You should ensure that you only tell the truth to the agent and avoid bringing on board witnesses who will lie on your behalf. You should take the time to accumulate evidence that will absorb you from the allegations. A lawyer can help you to deal with the issues at hand smoothly. It is relaxing to know that you have someone who understands the legal issues that might have face you.