If federal agents make contact with you, then you must take proper precautions to protect yourself. Usually, agents will arrive at your front door unannounced and ask to speak with you. Providing information to them could jeopardize your future and lead to a federal grand jury indictment.
Federal charges can be a life-altering consequence. It can destroy relationships, subject you to a lengthy prison sentence, and ruin you financially. Depending on the accusations, the government can seize your assets – i.e., bank accounts, stocks, properties.
Common federal agencies include:
- Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
- Office of the Inspector General (OIG)
- Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
- Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF)
- Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
- Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE)
- Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)
Generally, there are two reasons why federal authorities make contact with you. First, you may be a witness, and the agents are attempting to obtaining information from you to build their case against someone else. Second, you may be the subject or target of a criminal probe, and the government intends to move forward with prosecuting you in the future.
Agents rarely reveal details of their case. By doing so, it may jeopardize their collection of evidence in an ongoing investigation. The law permits investigators to mislead, and even lie, to suspects. Do not be fooled if agents downplay your involvement or the reason(s) the agents are requesting to speak with you. Investigators often employ a friendly demeanor tactic to make you feel comfortable when speaking with them.
It is never advisable to speak with agents outside the presence of an attorney. Federal agents conduct investigations that last for years. Consequently, the agents usually talk with witnesses and gather evidence long before making their presence known to you. If the agents believe that you provided untruthful answers to their questions, then you may be charged with giving a false statement – which is a federal offense. For example, if a witness provides a different account of an incident than what you stated, agents can arbitrarily decide to believe the witness's version and claim you lied.
The agents may be collecting evidence as part of a grand jury investigation. Witnesses who are not cooperative with investigators may be served with a grand jury subpoena to testify or provide records. If you are served with a subpoena to testify, you may have to invoke your Fifth Amendment right if you would be incriminating yourself by testifying.
The best approach is to retain an experienced federal criminal defense attorney to speak on your behalf. Our office can assist by contacting the federal prosecutor to determine what the government seeks to obtain from you. Speaking with law enforcement without a lawyer because you believe you have done nothing wrong is very ignorant and reckless to your future. You may be entangled in a criminal conspiracy without you ever knowing you're a member of it. Contact our office to schedule a free, confidential consultation.