Arrest is often the way many people learn that they are under federal investigation for alleged criminal activity. However, some people are notified that they are the focus of investigation by federal law enforcement agencies through a target letter from the US Attorney’s Office or learn about it as a result of a Freedom of Information Act request. The person may be the direct focus of the investigation, a member of a larger organization which is under scrutiny, or considered a key witness. There are many circumstances that can result in someone receiving a target letter including potential:
- Overbilling of the Government (Commonly Military Defense Contractors or
Health Care Professionals)
- Drug Crimes
- Tax Fraud
- Welfare Fraud
When a person receives a target letter or learns through other means that he or she is under investigation, that person is not currently charged with a crime. By hiring an experienced federal defense attorney, he or she can possibly prevent you from being indicted or reduce the type of charges that you may be looking at in federal court.
We highly recommend hiring an experienced federal criminal defense attorney the moment you learn that you are under investigation. Select an attorney who is used to dealing with the US Attorney’s Office on a daily basis as he or she understands the laws and are prepared to defend you even before charges are filed and possibly even prevent charges from being filed.
An expert federal defense lawyer will take several steps at this stage in the process. First, they will contact the appropriate federal law enforcement agency such as ATF, DEA, FBI, CID, etc. and determine what stage the agency is in their investigation. Second, the lawyer will learn whether you or an organization you work for or are involved with is the actual focus of the investigation. Third, the attorney will determine the evidence the agency has and evaluate the strength or weakness of that evidence.
Whether the evidence is strong or weak against you, your attorney will present evidence on the client’s behalf to the US Attorney’s office and/or federal law enforcement agency to possibly prevent you from being indicted or reduce the type of charges that you may be looking at in federal court. Even if charges are filed, your attorney will aggressively litigate your case in court and argue for bond to allow you to continue to work and be with your family as it progresses through the court system.
If the agents have a strong case against you, your lawyer will reach out to the US Attorney’s Office and determine what evidence or information they are looking for to prosecute their case. In many instances the attorney can establish you as a cooperating witness. Through this process, if your evidence, testimony, or information leads to the arrest of key people or provides substantial assistance in their investigation, you possibly may not be charged or indicted, obtain a reduced sentence, or receive probation.
If Charges are Filed
Another reason it is critical to hire an experienced federal criminal defense attorney is that he or she understands the procedural processes and can best represent your interests. In state court, a lawyer can depose a law enforcement agent prior to trial but this is not allowed in the federal system. Instead, during the federal bond or detention hearing, the defense has the opportunity to cross examine the agents to determine what evidence they have and the holes or weaknesses in their case. This important procedural opportunity is one that most defense lawyers who work primarily in the state courts may not understand or take advantage of.
If you receive a target letter and do nothing, your severely limit the aid an expert federal defense attorney can provide. Even if you do not expect to be indicted in the next months, or even years, hire an experienced federal defense attorney immediately to assure the best possible outcome to your case.