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You Have Received A Federal Target Letter, Now What?

Have you recently received a federal target letter? If so, you may initially feel intimidated, overwhelmed, and unsure of your next steps.

Although a federal target letter is not something you need to be overly concerned about, it is essential to understand what this letter means and what the court system expects of you.

What is a Federal Target Letter?

A federal target letter is a formal notice from the United States government that you are being called to testify before a federal grand jury. This could be because the prosecutor believes you have information or knowledge of the criminal activity or participated in a criminal event.

Once you receive a federal target letter, you must get a criminal defense attorney. The target letter should describe the alleged crimes the prosecutor is investigating.

After receiving a target letter, it is crucial that you not attempt to hide or destroy any evidence that could be related to the criminal offenses in question. Remember, you can avoid self-incrimination by remaining silent or refusing to answer questions during the grand jury proceedings.

Why Do Prosecutors Send Target Letters?

Prosecutors send target letters to notify witnesses or other parties involved in criminal activity that they will be called to testify in a grand jury. It allows you to retain a criminal defense lawyer or secure a public defender.

This is also a chance to start cooperating with prosecutors and work on obtaining a plea agreement to avoid trial altogether. If you receive the federal target letter, chances are, you will be subpoenaed to testify if there is a trial.

Does a Target Letter Mean Indictment?

Prosecutors send target letters to anyone who is the subject of, involved in, or the target of a grand jury investigation. The target of the investigation is someone the prosecutor believes is linked to a criminal offense.

Alternatively, suppose you are considered the subject of a target letter. In that case, it means that the prosecutor believes you might have information that could be used to aid in the government’s federal investigation.

A target letter does not necessarily mean you will be indicted for a criminal offense. However, if you are the target of the letter, you will likely be charged with a federal crime. Since a target letter can potentially avoid a trial, your federal criminal defense attorney can help you explore your options and work on obtaining a plea agreement, re-classifying you as a subject instead of a witness, or dismissing the case altogether.

What Types of Crimes Warrant Target Letters?

Nearly any type of federal criminal offense could warrant a target letter. However, since the federal government focuses significantly on white-collar crimes, these are some of the most prevalent cases target letter subjects wind up involved in.

White-collar crimes are non-violent offenses, but that does not mean that no victims have suffered considerably. Examples of white-collar crimes could include:

  • Embezzlement
  • Bribery
  • Insider trading
  • Wage theft
  • Fraud
  • Ponzi schemes
  • Falsification of financial records

The federal government also focuses on any type of criminal activity designed to conceal fraud or interfere with government regulatory agencies, such as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

What Should You Do if You Receive a Target Letter?

Immediately after receiving a target letter, if you do not yet have a criminal defense attorney working for you, now is the time to hire one to advocate for your interests. You should be prepared to comply with the requests within your target letter.

Often, the target letter will simply request you testify before a grand jury. In others, you may be invited to attend a meeting with the prosecutor handling a specific criminal case. Do not reach out to the prosecutor’s office without having a criminal defense lawyer on your side.

Otherwise, you could be putting yourself at risk. Remember, anything you say and do could be misinterpreted, misconstrued, or used against you if prosecutors believe it will help their criminal investigation. Make sure you have an experienced federal criminal defense attorney on your side who understands the intricacies of federal target letters and how to resolve them most efficiently.

Get Help From a Criminal Defense Attorney Today

When you receive a federal target letter, your criminal defense lawyer will be responsible for contacting the prosecutor overseeing the case to determine what is expected of you. Your lawyer will help you determine why you received a federal target letter and the steps you need to take to resolve the case entirely or avoid indictment.

Reach out to an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney at Harrison & Hart, LLC to learn more. You can reach us through our confidential contact form or by phone at (505) 295-3261 to get started on your case as soon as today.

A Complete Guide to RICO Charges

When criminal organizations or enterprises commit certain offenses, they can face charges under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). RICO charges can carry some of the most severe consequences of all criminal charges.

Suppose you face allegations under the RICO Act. In that case, you must understand the extent of the charges you are facing, your potential penalties, and which defenses are most likely to produce a favorable outcome. With that in mind, check out this complete guide to RICO charges.

What is a RICO Charge?

RICO charges reduce the number of crimes committed by criminal enterprises and organizations. Generally, for a RICO charge to apply, the prosecutor must prove that there has been a pattern of illegal activity, including at least two RICO crimes over the last ten years.

The crimes do not need to be two separate offenses but rather two individual criminal acts. An example may be two instances of embezzlement, bribery, and extortion.

Common Types of RICO Charges

Several types of crimes could be charged under the RICO Act. Examples of such offenses include the following:

Generally, RICO charges will apply when prosecutors believe a pattern of criminal offenses connects with the mafia, a criminal organization, or an enterprise. Criminal organizations and enterprises will include two or more individuals who work together to commit specific criminal offenses.

Those involved do not necessarily need to have an existing relationship. As long as they are connected to the enterprise or organization, they can still face charges under the RICO Act.

What Are the Penalties for RICO Charges?

The consequences you face if convicted of a RICO offense vary depending on the criminal offense you are charged with, your cooperation with law enforcement, your criminal record, and other factors.

However, RICO charges often carry more severe penalties than misdemeanor or felony charges. Generally, you can expect to spend up to 20 years in prison and pay fines as high as $25,000. However, if the offense in question has a maximum sentence of more than 20 years, additional penalties may apply, including life imprisonment.

You Could Face Federal Penalties

The RICO Act applies to state and federal laws, so you can expect to be prosecuted federally if you are charged with a RICO offense. This means you could face time in a federal prison, which could take you further away from your family and friends.

Additional Consequences for RICO Charges

Additionally, you can expect your assets and property to be seized, fines to be imposed, restitution to be ordered, community service hours to be set, and your professional reputation to be destroyed.

How to Defend Against Racketeering Charges

You must take action to clear your name when you have been charged with racketeering or another type of RICO offense. In some instances, the prosecutor may be willing to allow you to enter a plea agreement if you agree to further aid them in their investigation.

Other times, your attorney must carefully scrutinize the details of your case to determine how to approach your defense. Suppose your constitutional rights were violated because law enforcement did not read your Miranda rights, conducted an illegal search, or violated other procedural rules and regulations. In that case, the charges against you could be dismissed altogether.

Other potential defenses that could be used to help clear your name of the RICO charges against you include:

  • Lack of sufficient evidence
  • Lack of intent to commit a crime
  • Mistaken identity
  • You are not a part of a criminal organization or enterprise
  • There is no pattern of criminal activities

Famous RICO Cases

RICO crimes involve individuals who participate in criminal organizations and enterprises. For this reason, there are certain types of RICO cases that have become widely known. For example, you may have heard in the headlines about murder-for-hire plots, weapons trafficking, human trafficking, or the transportation of stolen goods.

However, many other types of RICO charges can also grab the public’s attention. Most notably, cases of extortion and bribery of public officials are often considered RICO violations. This can include making bribes to judges, law enforcement officials, elected officials, and other trusted parties.

If you are facing RICO charges, the last thing you want is for your case to make headlines. The more scrutiny on your case, the more difficult it will be to get it heard by a group of impartial jurors.

Contact a Racketeering Lawyer for Help Today

If you have been accused of committing a RICO offense, you must retain an experienced criminal defender if you hope to clear your name of the charges against you.

Find out what’s next for your defense when you reach out to a reputable RICO attorney at Harrison & Hart for a confidential case review. You can reach us through our secure contact form or by calling (505) 295-3261 to start working on your defense as soon as today.

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