A federal investigation is serious business. If you’re in Texas take it seriously and contact Dallas federal criminal defense lawyer John Helms.
Learning that federal law enforcement is investigating you or your business for possible criminal law violations can be very frightening and intimidating. Federal agents and prosecutors have substantial resources and a lot of discretion when it comes to investigations. But those resources and power have limits and you can take steps to protect yourself by avoiding mistakes that could be very costly.
An investigation is the first step in the federal criminal justice process. It may or may not result in criminal charges being filed. During an investigation agents are trying to determine,
- If a federal crime has been committed, and if so,
- The identity of the parties involved, and,
- Evidence relevant to the alleged crime.
Someone you know may tell you they believe you’re being investigated or you could learn it directly, or indirectly, from the investigating agency or federal prosecutor’s office.
- You may get a formal notification (a target letter) from the local federal prosecutor,
- An agent contacts you and asks for a meeting,
- Agents appear unannounced at your home, business or elsewhere to ask you questions,
- Agents execute a search warrant at your home or place of business, or,
- You receive a grand jury subpoena seeking your testimony and/or your documents.
If you find yourself in this situation you can improve your odds of a positive outcome by not doing a number of things.
Don’t Go It Alone or Ignore What Is Happening
Acting like nothing is happening and that everything will be OK if you just keep doing what you’re doing is a bad idea. You should contact our office immediately so we can get a handle on what’s going on and discuss what you should do to protect yourself. These investigations are very serious and, depending on the issue being investigated, if criminal charges are successful you could spend many years in prison.
We can contact whatever agency is involved, or the federal prosecutor, and learn as much as we can about your situation. If they want to question you or want you to provide information or documents, we can review their requests and respond in a way that protects you as much as possible.
You may be doing something, or doing it in a particular way, that you think is legal under federal law but actually is not. If that’s the case you will need to stop and we can discuss ways to make the best of a bad situation.
Don’t Break the Law
If you’re breaking the law and you know you’re breaking the law, you need to stop. If you continue, you may create more evidence that could be discovered and there may be new witnesses that could be interviewed. If you’re in a hole, the first thing you need to do to get out is to stop digging.
You should also not break other laws (such as destroying evidence or intimidating or convincing others not to cooperate with the investigation or to testify against you) in response to learning about the investigation. You may end up being convicted of these other crimes even if you’re acquitted of the alleged crime underlying the initial investigation.
Don’t Talk to Others About What’s Going On
Whatever you say or write to others about what you’re doing could be found out during an investigation. Those you talk or write to could be questioned about your communications and possibly testify against you at a trial. These people may be cooperating with the investigation so what you say may be recorded and what you write may be quickly turned over to investigators. What you say or write may be misunderstood or misinterpreted so it’s best not to say or write anything.
Just because you’re being investigated doesn’t mean you’ll be charged or arrested. Often investigations find no evidence of laws being broken or not enough to justify an arrest or prosecution.
We may work with investigators to clear your name and show that you’ve been wrongly targeted. Our office may also work out a plea bargain so the punishment you face may be much lighter than what could happen otherwise. Cooperating with the investigation may be the wisest thing to do, depending on your situation.
If you’ve learned you’re being investigated by federal officials, contact a federal criminal defense attorney in Dallas to discuss your case. There’s too much at stake for you to handle it yourself.
Attorney John Helms