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:
- Insider trading
- Wage theft
- 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.