What Should I Do If I Receive a Target Letter?

You are put on notice that you are a target of this investigation…

If you’ve received a target of investigation letter from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), a federal agency, or a U.S. Attorney’s Office, call a federal defense lawyer immediately. This is the pre-indictment stage of the case. The reason you received this letter is that you are being investigated concerning a serious federal crime. Resist the urge to contact the prosecutor for an interview – as anything you say can and will be used against you.

What is a Target Letter?

A target of an investigation letter is a formal notice from the federal government that an individual is a target for criminal prosecution. Once received, you may be called to testify before a federal grand jury regarding the criminal activity you are believed to have participated in or have knowledge of.  

A target letter is frequently used in white-collar cases such as bribery, kickbacks, or securities fraud. This notice is often the first indication that a specific individual is under investigation by law enforcement.

If I Receive a Target Letter, will I be Indicted?

In federal criminal investigations, the DOJ customarily sends target letters to individuals who are either the target or the subject of a grand jury investigation. One who is considered a target is a person who the U.S. Attorney believes has “substantial evidence linking him or her to the commission of a crime.”  

A subject of an investigation is one whom the federal government believes has information that would be helpful to an investigation. A subject is one whose “conduct falls within the scope of the grand jury investigation.”  

If you are a target, the government will tell you. Although it is likely that you will be indicted, there is hope. Prosecutors do not always gather sufficient evidence to indict the targets of their criminal investigations. An experienced white-collar criminal defense attorney like Ben Stechschulte may be able to help avoid the filing of criminal charges.  

Depending on the specifics of your case, Stechschulte Nell Law can negotiate with federal prosecutors to close an investigation, respond to government inquiries, argue to reclassify the target as a witness, and limit the invasive scope of a grand jury investigation.

“Whatever has been unearthed in this investigation suggests you may have committed a crime.” 

Information in a Target of Investigation Letter

The target letter will state the alleged crimes for which you are being investigated by the DOJ and the grand jury. You will be advised to not destroy or alter any evidence related to the federal crime, as such acts may be considered obstruction of justice. The target letter will also state that you have the right to refuse to answer questions under the Fifth Amendment. 

Most letters will ask you to immediately take some form of action, i.e. meet with the Assistant United States Attorney who is investigating the case, voluntarily testify before the grand jury, or obtain court-appointed counsel. 

Regardless of what is requested of you, it is in your best interest to immediately hire a federal defense attorney. Our legal team, led by Florida board-certified attorney Ben Stechschulte, has helped many people in your situation. Call our federal criminal defense law firm for a free consultation about your case.

Do I have to Hire an Attorney if I Receive a Target Letter?

It’s best to hire a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. We’re on your side. A skilled federal defense attorney may be able to persuade the prosecution to drop the investigation.  

In cases where an indictment is pending, your lawyer may be able to:  

  • obtain early discovery, 
  • evaluate the evidence against you,  
  • negotiate with the prosecution for a favorable pre-indictment plea agreement. 

Additionally, we’ll leverage the fact that the prosecutor may not have spent significant time and/or resources investigating the case yet. This defense strategy allows for more room to negotiate a plea than in cases where the grand jury has returned an indictment.

After Getting a Target Letter, what else do I Need to Know?

The federal government has robust investigative power. They will use everything they can to build a case against you. In these criminal cases, it’s not uncommon to use techniques like placing wiretaps on phones, executing search warrants of your home or office, and using people you know as informants without your knowledge.

Call Stechschulte Nell for Criminal Defense

If you’ve received a target of investigation letter, the law office of Stechschulte Nell can represent your case. Don’t wait. Call our top-rated Florida law firm at (813) 280-1244 to have your case reviewed by an experienced federal defense attorney. We’re available 24/7 to take your call.

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