The right lawyer makes all the difference when it comes to defending against federal criminal charges. Choose an attorney with sufficient resources to investigate and build your case. Look for proven negotiation skills as well – since most cases end in plea deals, your attorney’s abilities will make all the difference.
While any type of investigation by federal law enforcement can be nerve-wracking, it carries far more weight when you are the subject of a targeted criminal investigation. If you’re made aware of being a target, subject or witness in a federal investigation, it is critical that you hire a top federal defense attorney right away.
If you receive a “target letter,” it means that the government has reason to believe you are guilty of a federal crime and is in the process of charging you. This is the most serious level of federal investigation and requires a dedicated federal defense attorney with experience taking on U.S. prosecutors.
It is important to seek legal counsel immediately after receiving a target letter, as defending yourself at this stage can help prevent charges from being filed. Your attorney can work to limit the scope of a grand jury investigation and potentially persuade prosecutors not to file charges at all.
Federal Agents Questioning You
If you’re a target of a federal investigation or have received a target letter from the FBI or another agency, it’s important to contact an experienced attorney. Federal agents are highly trained to get you to say something that can be used against you, even if it’s just an innocent statement.
It’s also very important to refrain from speaking with anyone about the case, including family and friends, as they could be questioned by investigators at a later date or become the subject of a subpoena. Discussing these matters with others can sabotage your case and make it more difficult to defend your innocence in court.
When the FBI or other agents ask to question you, remember that you are NOT required to answer questions and can request your lawyer first – your right to remain silent and speak with an attorney is known as your Miranda rights. They will often be “disappointed” that you chose not to cooperate but they will know that you are sophisticated enough to understand the dangers of proceeding without counsel.
You’ve Been Charged With a Crime
It’s not always clear whether you have been charged with a crime until you are put in handcuffs or receive a summons in the mail, but there are other indicators. For example, if you are questioned by federal agents or have your home searched, these are all indications that you may be the subject of a criminal investigation and that you need Trusted Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers.
A federal prosecutor will not charge you until they have probable cause to believe that you committed a crime and that you are the one responsible for that criminal act. This requires that they review the evidence and find out what it consists of, which can include interviewing witnesses, reviewing reports, surveillance footage and other evidence.
The most important thing to remember is to never speak with law enforcement without your federal attorney present. Even if you think you’re helping the investigator, anything you say can be misconstrued and used against you at a later time.
You’re Under Investigation
The first sign that you may be the target of a federal investigation is an inquiry letter from a prosecutor, and it’s best to consult with criminal defense attorneys early on. The earlier an attorney is hired, the more leverage they will have in the case.
It’s important to remember that federal agents are well-trained in extracting information from suspects, and any statements you make during an investigation can be used against you later on in court. Exercise your right to legal representation and inform law enforcement that you want a lawyer present before answering any questions. This typically halts questioning and gives you time to hire an attorney.
Search lawyer directories for accomplished counsel in your area. Be sure to ask plenty of questions about their experience, track record with similar cases, communication style and staff resources. A committed criminal defense attorney can make the difference between serving prison time and walking free. This is a pivotal partnership.