Many federal agencies are authorized to carry out investigations. If you think you may be under federal investigation, you should contact a federal defense attorney immediately.
Those agencies will collect evidence against you, and you need someone on your side to protect your rights and prevent federal charges or arrest.
Who Conducts Federal Investigations?
Many federal agencies may conduct investigations. They may be tipped off by an informant, or your actions may seem suspicious. No matter the reason for their investigation, you need to find out who they are and what they want.
Some of the agencies that have the authorization to perform formal investigations include:
- The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)
- The Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
- The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI)
- The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
- The Secret Service (SS)
- The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (AFT)
Federal investigations generally arise because a government agency believes you have broken a federal law, you committed a crime on federal land, or your crime occurred across state lines.
What Happens in a Federal Investigation?
A federal investigation may begin when there is a report about a crime that has been committed. In some cases, federal charges are related to data obtained by a federal agency, such as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Upon receiving information about a federal crime, special agents will begin a federal investigation involving an organization or individual. They will gather evidence and interview witnesses. Multiple federal agencies may be involved in a single case.
Federal agents work on a case that is assigned to a federal prosecutor. The prosecutor helps the agents obtain legal documents like subpoenas and search warrants. The prosecutor also files formal criminal charges.
Federal agents use many tools to collect information during their investigation and obtain a federal indictment.
How Long Does a Federal Investigation Take?
A federal investigation could get resolved quickly, or years could pass. The length of time depends on how long it takes agents to obtain the information they need to support federal criminal charges.
5 Signs You Might Be Under Federal Investigation
You should be aware of some telltale signs that you are under federal investigation. This helps you determine when to contact a federal defense attorney to protect your interests.
1. You Receive a Target Letter
A federal prosecutor may issue a target letter requesting your cooperation in the case. It will ask you to speak with the investigators and provide information about a specific topic.
The letter may not state exactly what they want to know. You should never answer their questions without first getting legal advice from a federal criminal defense attorney.
2. You Are Served a Subpoena
The court may order a subpoena to force you to testify in a case. They could also order one to obtain documents, such as business records or tax information. If you receive a federal subpoena, you should know your Constitutional right against self-incrimination.
3. Your Friends or Family Are Questioned
Federal agents may begin questioning friends, family, or business partners. If they ask about you or your organization, you may be the target of a federal investigation. You should tell your acquaintances not to answer their questions willingly and immediately call a federal defense lawyer.
4. You’re Approached by Federal Agents
If federal agents have a significant amount of evidence against you, they might talk to you directly to get more information. They may knock on your door unexpectedly and ask to speak with you. You should never talk to federal agents without first seeking legal counsel.
5. A Search Warrant Has Been Issued
If a federal agent approaches you with a search warrant to look at your home, business, or other location, you should know that you are likely under investigation. The prosecutor must have enough probable cause to prove to a judge that you may have committed a crime to get a search warrant. You must allow the federal agents to execute a search warrant, but do not offer any additional information without your lawyer present.
What to Do if You’re Under Federal Investigation
You must call a defense lawyer with experience in federal crimes if you think a federal agency is investigating you. Your federal defense lawyer could help protect your rights and interests throughout an investigation.
You have a right to have an attorney present at all stages of a federal investigation. If federal agents approach you, do not waive your right to legal counsel. Federal investigators are trained to get you to talk. Don’t succumb to their tactics. Call an attorney before you discuss anything with them.
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Offer Legal Protection
If you are the target of a federal investigation, you may have no idea what steps you should take. Instead of trying to diffuse the situation alone, contact a federal lawyer who can evaluate the situation and help you present a solid defense.