You Received a Notice of Investigation – Now What?June 6, 2016
Learning that you are under investigation by the federal government can be terrifying.
You should take a federal investigation very seriously as you may be in much more trouble than if you were under investigation for state crimes. Federal crimes tend to carry harsher penalties than state crimes and, if convicted, you will be sent to federal prison. Therefore, if you believe that you are under investigation it is important to contact an experienced Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
Are You Under Investigation?
You can learn that you are under investigation in a white collar case in different ways.
1. Knock on the door
Someone from the F.B.I., the Secret Service, or any number of other federal law enforcement agencies knocks on your door and asks to talk. If that happens, and the agents are mainly asking questions about you, then you are probably under investigation. Politely decline any conversation with the investigators and immediately call your attorney.
2. Search warrant
If the police come into your home or office and execute a search warrant, you are under investigation.
Federal agents may come to your house with a search warrant. If they come, they will likely come early in the morning. This is the least pleasant way to learn that you are under investigation. If they bring a search warrant to your business, your business may have to comply with the subpoena even if that gets you into trouble. In either case, the best thing to do is to contact your attorney as soon as you can and, in the meantime, refrain from speaking to anyone concerning the investigation.
4. Target Letter
A federal prosecutor can send you a letter saying that you are a target. The letter may suggest that you come in and talk to the agent. Before you talk, be sure to call an experienced white collar crime defense lawyer.
5. Word on the Street
A former co-worker heard about a grand jury subpoena for testimony. A business partner had a knock on his door. If the word on the street is that there is an investigation, use the advance notice to speak to an attorney and protect yourself.
5 Steps During an Investigation
• Call an Attorney: The investigation period prior to indictment presents enormous risks no matter what the charge. If you become aware of a federal investigation pending against you, call a federal criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The investigation may have just begun, or it may have been going on for months or years before you become aware. You should not attempt to explain your involvement in a potentially illegal scheme to federal agents or investigators. It is more likely than not that what you say will be used against you and that you can seriously hurt your defense.
• Make Assumptions: Assume your phone calls are tapped and that the government has been doing so for a while. If you make this assumption, you will not be tempted to say things that can later be used against you.
• Social Media: Do not post on social media or use public platforms to discuss any aspect of the investigation. Again, assume that anything and everything will be used against you during the investigation.
• Don’t Delete: Don’t delete digital files, phone records or electronic communications. Even if deletions do not include evidence, it will create the appearance that you are obstructing justice.
• Don’t Talk: Not only should you avoid talking to law enforcement, avoid talking to anyone about the investigation. You do not know who is a witness or who will become a witness. Therefore, the best way to protect yourself is to stay quiet.
Whether you are charged with white collar offenses such as embezzlement, bank, tax or mortgage fraud; drug offenses, such as conspiracy, possession of a controlled substance in a protected area, marijuana grow operations, drug trafficking, and firearm possession in connection with drug trafficking; sex crimes, such as child pornography; and/or charges related to obstruction of justice and/or perjury, choosing an attorney who is experienced in representing persons charged with those types of crimes in initial meetings and/or negotiations with the government, discovery collection and review, motion practice, trial and possibly sentencing is key. Call an experienced Philadelphia criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Contact The Zeiger Firm today at (215) 546-0340 for a free consultation and let us help you.