What to Do if You Receive a Target Letter from the FBI

An FBI target letter is a document a federal prosecutor sends to someone whom they believe is committing or has committed a criminal offense. The target letter is typically used in federal investigations of white-collar crime. The letter usually notifies the person receiving it that they may be subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury and that they are a target of a federal investigation.  


Contact an Experienced Federal Criminal Defense Attorney 


If you or someone you know receives a target letter from the FBI, immediately contact and meet with an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer near you. Meeting with a trusted federal defense lawyer as soon as you receive such a target letter from the Department of Justice is like reaching for a life ring after falling overboard.  


After many years of federal courtroom experience, the criminal defense lawyers at Stechschulte Nell know that a target letter is not a guarantee that a federal indictment will follow. In fact, receiving a target letter is among the least intrusive actions a federal prosecutor can take with respect to a person whom they believe committed a crime. 


What Can an Experienced Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer Do to Help? 


A recent count of lawyers in America showed that less than 4% of the 1.3 million lawyers in the country practice criminal defense law. Since not every defense lawyer is skilled, experienced, and dedicated to their client’s success, finding the best lawyer to represent you is not easy. Only by earning trust, though years of working within the federal courts, conducting full defenses in jury trials, and negotiating to achieve the best outcome for every client, is a lawyer’s skill proven. 


An experienced federal defense attorney will engage in deep consultation with you to enable them to provide you with the most reliable assessment of your case. If the facts of the case suggest communicating with the prosecutor will be beneficial, your attorney will do so quickly. 


Only your attorney should have any interaction with federal prosecuting authorities about your case.  


Your Lawyer Will Get Information About the Government’s Theory 


When your lawyer concludes that speaking with the federal prosecutors may be advantageous, the first objective is to find out everything they can about what the government has as evidence and how the government’s attorneys think they can prove their case. 


When lawyers working on opposing sides of a case speak to each other, the best attorneys learn more than they disclose. In most cases, both the prosecutor and your defense lawyer will be feeling out the other to discover if there is a mutually beneficial option for both sides to take.  


Based entirely on what you as the client decide to do, the defense lawyers at Stechschulte Nell will attempt to accomplish your ideal case disposition. Whenever possible, the best lawyers convince federal prosecutors that the targeted client they represent is not sufficiently involved or is otherwise worthy of favorable prosecutorial discretion. 


Assessing the Volume and Quality of Evidence and Exploring Options 


At Stechschulte Nell, our experience in the federal court enables us to accurately assess the strength or weakness of the evidence shared with us by the prosecutor. After fully consulting with each client, we aggressively pursue the goal decided upon by the client. Sometimes that decision is reached only after extensive discussions with family members. 


If the evidence of criminal involvement is sufficiently strong, an experienced federal defense lawyer attempts to mitigate the client’s responsibility and invite alternatives to a grand jury indictment. 


Some clients’ cases are appropriate to explore cooperation agreements, either to prevent indictment or to gain favorable recommendations from prosecutors to present to a judge when the time comes. Every federal defendant has the right to be indicted by a grand jury. However, if beneficial to our client, we will vigorously try to convince prosecutors to permit a plea to information, a charging document that can often be negotiated to minimize the impact of an ultimate conviction. 


Fighting Federal Prosecutions 


Federal prosecuting attorneys handle only a fraction of the number of cases filed by state prosecutors at the state level. Because few cases are filed by federal prosecutors, and because they have almost unlimited financial resources to investigate criminal activity, federal prosecutions are often thorough, heavily documented, and sometimes irrefutable evidence against defendants. That is why so many cases brought against defendants by the Department of Justice end in guilty pleas rather than trials. 


However, federal prosecutors are far from perfect. They are often dependent upon flawed or sloppy investigations, and the law is sometimes misread by the government agents who see every suspect as guilty.  


In any case involving defensible facts, debatable law, or prosecution evidence of questionable merit, Stechschulte Nell aggressively defends the case. Analyzing every legal issue in the case often results in strong motion practice, suppression of wrongly obtained evidence, disclosure of damaging information about government witnesses, or gaps in the government’s proof that leave clients disconnected from the real criminal actors. 



Tampa Criminal Defense  


Just as we urge clients to contact us first and immediately after receiving a target letter, we also recommend that you NEVER take any of the following actions: 




  • contact the FBI or prosecutors yourself 
  • have friends or family contact anyone other than your attorney 
  • contact other witnesses or people whom you think could be witnesses 
  • destroy, alter, or hide anything that may be evidence 
  • attempt to leave the country or the immediate jurisdiction without speaking to your attorney 
  • discuss the facts of the case or your receipt of a target letter with anyone other than your lawyer 


If you have received a target letter from the FBI, call Stechschulte Nell at 813-280-1244 for a case review. We are ready to defend your case.  

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