I Am Under Federal Investigation But Haven’t Been Charged Yet. Do I Need An Attorney?
In the United States and its territories the FBI, DEA, IRS, ICE, Homeland Security, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Office of Inspector General (OIG), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Department of Defense (DOD), and other federal agencies are tasked with investigating criminal violations of federal law. In Miami, Florida, we Concepcion Law is located we also see cases involving the US Coast Guard due to our extensive coastal areas. All these law enforcement branches ultimately report to prosecutors at the U.S. Justice Department. There, federal prosecutors, Assistant United States Attorneys, make the decision of whether or not to open a formal investigation or to even bring federal criminal charges against a Defendant.
The earlier you call the experienced federal defense attorneys the more likely it will be that you avoid some of the common mistakes people make in federal cases. Below are some of the most common questions and mistakes made by Defendants.
Are You Under Federal Investigation?
The thought of being investigated by a federal agency is terrifying and can disrupt an individual’s life. At Concepcion Law we know the stress that our clients feel when they believe they are under investigation. They cannot sleep, they cannot eat, the spend all day thinking and wondering what to do and what will happen. If you believe you are under investigation, call the attorney’s at Concepcion Law and allow us to help answer your questions and keep the following in mind:
- The FBI or other federal agencies typically does not intercept phone conversations. Unless your case is one of international terrorism, national security, organized crime, or a crime involving minors, it is very difficult for the government to convince a federal judge to grant even limited and only temporary permission to wiretap your phone. Nonetheless, if you believe or have reasons to believe that you are under investigation, you should always speak, text, and communicate as if law enforcement is listening and reading your messages.
- The FBI or other federal agencies typically does not follow you around. That’s simply not how the government investigates federal cases. Unless the government thinks that following you will lead them to a co-conspirator, reveal a new target, or will catch you in the middle of an illegal transaction—the government will not conduct this level of surveillance.
There are several (objective) ways to determine whether you are indeed part of an investigation. You may think you are under investigation because you have heard from acquaintances, friends, or former business partners that the FBI is interviewing people mentioning your name or asking about you. Here are the most common scenarios:
- The FBI Wants to Interview You;
- You Receive a Grand Jury Subpoena;
- Federal Agents Raid Your House/Office;
- You Receive a Target Letter; or
- You Get Arrested.
Each of these events describes a verifiable indication that you are somehow involved in a federal investigation. The question then becomes: how am I involved and what is my potential criminal exposure if any? The FBI or other federal agencies typically distinguish three levels of involvement: witness, subject, or target.
Witness: The government believes that you have information (e.g. emails, documents, any form of knowledge) about a case.
Subject: The government is not sure whether you are a witness or a target and need to further investigate.
Target: The government believes that you committed a crime or helped someone else commit a crime as a co-conspirator. In such a case, you may receive a target letter, experience a raid, or ultimately you could get arrested.
In any case, the only way you will find out what the investigation is about and what your alleged involvement is through your attorney. You can’t just call the FBI agent that left a card at your door and ask because the agent is not allowed to disclose the nature of a federal investigation. Your attorney, however, will find out from the agent and from the supervising government prosecutor, the Assistant United States Attorney. The earlier your attorney makes these inquiries for you, the more likely it is that you will influence whether you will end up as a target or a non-target. The longer you wait, the more time you give the government to investigate you, and the less time your attorney will have to turn things around. If you want early answers to your most pressing questions and if you want to dramatically increase your chances of avoiding criminal charges you should speak to the attorneys at Concepcion Law immediately.
Don’t Talk To Law Enforcement
Once you believe that you are involved in a federal investigation, the worst mistake is to tell yourself that you can handle things on your own. Because you did not do anything wrong, why should you need anyone’s help? This misconception often leads to you saying “yes” when federal agents come to your house (or your business) and ask you if you have a few minutes to answer a few questions. The agents will assure you that you are not in trouble and make use of the fact that they find you completely overwhelmed, uninformed, and unprepared. After all, you have never dealt with the FBI before and the mere fact that federal agents come to you puts you in such a state of shock that you trust their reassurance that the investigation is not about you. This is a critical point that many clients regret, because if you talk without consulting an attorney you may very well talk your way into handcuffs.
Think about the situation this way, why in the world would the FBI come to you if the investigation did not involve you in some way? Remember that the FBI is absolutely allowed to lie to you, and they will absolutely lie to you to get the information they want. From the other side, what you don’t know is that your natural reaction to be defensive, to not share any information that could make you look bad or even guilty, or to (slightly) minimize or misrepresent your knowledge or involvement in the matter they are investigating, can result in criminal charges. The FBI or other federal agencies routinely ask about information that they already know in order to test you and see whether you are lying. If you do this, you will most likely become a target.
Under federal law, withholding or misrepresenting mischaracterizing information or lying in the presence of a federal agent constitutes a federal felony. Talking to an FBI agent is the equivalent to testifying in federal court under oath. Of course, the agents never tell you that because they are hoping that you lie. Every single day Defendants destroy their case and defenses because they talk to federal agents without an attorney. Don’t be one of them, call Concepcion Law attorneys first and let us find out for you what the investigation is really about—and what your role in the case is. Don’t ever talk to federal law enforcement without an attorney.
Never Destroy Evidence
A common reaction to confirmation that you are involved in a federal investigation is to destroy evidence (Shred papers, delete emails, toss phones, and coordinate stories with others). If you do this, you just committed a serious crime. Obstruction of justice is a serious federal felony. Moreover, because you are not an experienced federal attorney you may also destroy evidence that helps your case or that could be used as a bargaining chip to reduce your sentence. In many cases Defendants find themselves regretting having done this. Don’t be one of them.
If the prospect of years of imprisonment does not deter you, consider this: federal agents are far from stupid. As the investigation progresses and the pressure increases and ultimately becomes unbearable, someone with knowledge of tampering or obstructing will tell the government—to obtain immunity for himself for disclosing. This someone could be your best buddy, your long-time partner, or even your spouse. Facing an additional five years in federal prison has that type of effect on people!
Consult With An Experienced Federal Defense Attorney Now
At Concepcion Law we routinely help clients faced with federal investigations. If you find yourself under investigation for any of the following offense give us a case for a free consultation:
- Bank Fraud (18 U.S.C. 1344)
- Counterfeiting (18 U.S.C. 2320)
- Money Laundering (18 U.S.C. 1956)
- Mortgage Fraud
- Insurance Fraud
- Securities Fraud (15 U.S.C. 78j, 78jj; 18 U.S.C. 1348)
- Obstruction of Justice (18 U.S.C. 1512)
- Perjury/ False Statement (18 U.S.C. 1001)
- Credit Card Fraud
- Identity Theft
- Pornography Offenses
- Prostitution & Trafficking Offenses
- Unauthorized Access (18 U.S.C. 1030)
- Obstruction of Justice
- Immigration offenses (Alien Smuggling, illegal reentry)
- Federal Conspiracy Charges
- Medicare Fraud, Medicaid Fraud
- Illegal Kickbacks
- Healthcare Fraud (18 U.S.C. 1347)
- Federal Drug Conspiracy (trafficking) (21 U.S.C. 846)
- Bribery (18 U.S.C. 201)
- Mail Fraud (18 U.S.C. 1341)
- Wire Fraud 18 U.S.C. 1343)
- Computer Crimes
- Tax Fraud (26 U.S.C. 7206)
If you or a loved one is facing potential federal charges, contact the team at Concepcion Law today by calling (305) 791-6529 to schedule your appointment.
Call Now For A Case Evaluation!