People often speculate and some will even joke that they are the target of a federal investigation. However, receiving a target letter stating you are indeed being investigated is no laughing matter. A target letter can confirm your worst suspicions so you should take it very seriously. If you have recently received a target letter, here are some actions you should take.
#1. Understand how Target Letters Work
What is a target letter? Basically a target letter is an official documents sent from a United States attorney letting you know you are the target of an investigation. The letter may also ask you to come in and “proffer” or cooperate with authorities in exchange for protection. This could be in the way of an interview, providing testimony to a grand jury, or turning over certain other evidence.
In sending a target letter, prosecutors hope to scare you into taking action. Many times, the thought of doing prison time is enough to make people squeal-particularly if they believe they are also being protected in the process. The truth is that anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law, which is why you should never speak to the authorities without legal counsel present.
#2. Hire an Attorney
By the time you receive a target letter, the feds have already set their sights on you. This means that at least a partial investigation has already taken place and that an arrest may even be imminent. Others in your circle may have also received a target letter providing essentially the same instructions. If one of them proffers first, your chances of leniency just got a whole lot slimmer.
In situations like this, it can be difficult to know what you should do. On one hand, you do not want to admit guilt but on the other you do not want to let someone else throw you under the bus. An attorney can help tremendously in these situations by:
• Ensuring you do not inadvertently give up your rights. Remember that anything you tell a prosecutor is admissible in court. As such, you’ll want to have an agreement in place before you start spilling your guts.
• Seeing that you get a fair plea deal should you decide to go that route. Just because you plead guilty does not mean you have to take whatever offer is on the table. Your lawyer can better advise you when to accept a plea bargain and when to walk away.
• Forcing the government to prove its case. Maybe you are falsely accused or the feds have very thin evidence. In that instance, you could be better off taking your case to court.
• Preparing you to answer questions during a court trial or deposition. A lawyer can help you be honest and truthful without providing more information than what is required.
#3. Do not Destroy Evidence
The target letter will spell out which agency is initiating the investigation. Chances are you have probably had some contact with that agency before and therefore have a good idea what the investigation is about. You could be tempted to hide, destroy, or alter any evidence you believe might pertain to that matter. 18 USC § 1519 imposes fines and prison time of up to 20 years for anyone who willfully destroys evidence pertaining to a federal crime.
If you do possess what you feel could be evidence, you may want to hand that over to your attorney. Having your lawyer look at it will make it easier for him or her to anticipate what moves a U.S. attorney might make next.
Have you recently received a target letter? If so do not panic-you are still innocent until proven guilty. At the same time, you should also know that the federal government has nearly unlimited resources and may therefore pursue you relentlessly. An attorney with extensive experience dealing with federal or white collar crimes is the best line of defense for anyone who has gotten the dreaded target letter.
Todd is a miracle worker who will work tirelessly for you and your family. He is one of the few attorneys i've met - who I earnestly trust to protect me, and who I am happy to refer to our friends and fellow family members. The Spodek Law Group is someone you want on your side, because they will treat you just like family. Todd and his team are available 24/7, and they always answered our calls. Even when we were being irrational, and crazy - they were calm and super helpful. Just call Todd. He gives you a free consultation and is very understanding.- Donna & Robert
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