What To Do If You’re Under FBI Investigation
who have been charged with a crime by the FBI.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is a primary federal law enforcement agency for investigating many white collar federal crimes. It investigates potential fraud in both federal and private programs. The FBI works under the supervision of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and often works in cooperation with the Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG).
Discovering an FBI Investigation
No matter if an FBI investigation is referred by the HHS-OIG or is provoked by another party, the investigation will usually progress for quite some time before the company or individuals under investigation are made aware of it. You may ultimately end up receiving a target letter from the DOJ informing you of the investigation. More likely, however, you will be approached by federal law enforcement agents yourself or you will hear from business partners, employees (former or current), or friends that they have been approached by FBI agents. A federal agent may come to your home or place of business with a search warrant. You may also receive a grand jury subpoena which strongly supports the idea that you are being targeted by a federal investigation.
Initial Contact with FBI Agents
You must assume that you are the target of an investigation if you are approached by FBI agents. Investigators may state or suggest that you are merely a witness or that they are primarily interested in someone else. While this may or may not be true, it is often used as a tactic to get incriminating statements and information from a target. You are not required to agree to be interviewed. In fact, it is generally not in your best interest to do so. You may be concerned, and FBI agents may even suggest that it “looks bad” if you do not agree to be interviewed when they ask. However, you have a right to the best attorney, and FBI agents typically already have strong opinions about whether you are a witness, subject, or target that likely won’t change depending on whether or not you agree to be interviewed. You may very well make statements that are incriminating or inaccurate if you go into an interview unprepared, without knowing the subject of the interview, and without taking the time to review the relevant documents and remember the circumstances surrounding the conduct at issue. Your attorneys may decide that a proffer is in your best interest, but they will weigh all the relevant factors before making a decision. The best attorney can generally undo any harm caused by initial reluctance to speak with FBI agents, but it will be far more difficult to repair the damage caused by unrepresented communication with agents.
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Take Action Now if You Are Under FBI Investigation
If you are under investigation by the FBI, the investigation is likely criminal in nature. This means that you are at risk of receiving criminal charges, prison time, probation, or criminal fines. In many instances, the way a target acts during the course of an FBI investigation determines whether that person is charged at all. Thus, the steps you take while the federal investigation is pending are often more important than the defense you put on at trial.
The FBI has a big advantage over you at the time when you first learn of the investigation. They have likely been investigating you for months if not years, and they may have access to your phone records or bank accounts. Your attorney will need to catch up in terms of understanding the historical and current facts, so you should give your attorney as much time as possible to do that.
Protecting Yourself During an FBI Investigation / FBI Defense Strategies
1. Do Not Talk about Your Case
You do not know who is cooperating with the federal government. Conversations may be recorded and even if they are not – be careful. Anyone you speak with (other than your attorney) may be called to testify against you. In addition, saying the wrong thing could lead to obstruction of justice charges that may carry penalties as severe as the underlying charges being investigated.
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2. Avoid Social Media
The FBI may already have access to your social media accounts just like your communication records. You should not discuss the details of your case on social media, no matter how strict you set your privacy settings. Anything you post can be used against you. Posts of money or expensive luxury items are often particularly problematic.
3. Do Not Destroy Evidence
It usually does not work as the FBI often either already had access to the information destroyed or is able to reconstruct the information. More importantly, the destruction of evidence can lead to new criminal charges and can support strong inferences about the content of the destroyed evidence. In fact, once you become aware of the investigation, you should terminate automated deletion processes to avoid the unintentional destruction of relevant evidence.
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Hire an Experienced FBI Defense Federal Lawyer To Guide You on What To Do If You’re Under FBI Investigation
Do not wait until federal crime charges are filed to hire the best defense counsel. A defense attorney can assist you through the federal criminal investigation and limit your exposure to criminal charges. The sooner you hire an experienced federal defense attorney, the more likely you will be to avoid criminal charges. In addition, a skilled defense attorney can help you avoid common mistakes that many targets make like lying to a federal officer or obstructing justice. Your attorney will take care of all communications with federal agents, including responding to subpoena requests, and will tell you if and when it is in your best interest to grant an interview with federal investigators and federal prosecutors.
If the FBI is investigating you, a federal criminal law is at issue and any eventual charges against you will be brought in federal court. Federal court is very different from state court and you will need an attorney who is well versed in federal laws and federal procedures and has appeared in court. The best federal criminal defense attorney will also explain to you how the investigative process works and what to expect from an investigation from a federal agency. You want a lawyer who answers your questions about your case and one who listens and responds to your concerns. This means hiring a law firm that will not wall you off from attorneys with secretaries and whose attorneys are available to speak with you whenever you need them.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Oberheiden, P.C. Today
Federal criminal investigations are a serious matter and can involve multiple federal agencies, including the FBI, IRS, DEA, and ICE. If you are under a federal criminal investigation by the FBI or other federal agencies, you can contact Oberheiden, P.C. for a free and confidential consultation. Our FBI defense attorneys are available seven days a week to speak with you about how we may be able to help you with your case. Oberheiden, P.C. represents clients across the country facing federal investigations from federal law enforcement agencies.
Dr. Nick Oberheiden, founder of Oberheiden P.C., focuses his litigation practice on white-collar criminal defense, government investigations, SEC & FCPA enforcement, and commercial litigation.