Under Federal Investigation: Are you a Witness, Subject, or Target?

American flag and gavel depicting a federal investigation

Are you involved in a federal investigation?

Part of what makes a federal investigation so intimidating – from the perspective of a defendant – is that federal agencies don’t work precisely the same way as the state.

Most people have some idea of how the state court system works and what to expect if charged with a crime. If you get approached by a federal agent, you might have no idea who is under investigation, and why.

The best thing you can do for yourself in this situation is to use your fifth amendment right and remain silent.

However, the next best and most essential thing is to hire an experienced attorney. This is a critical step to help you find out what information a federal agent wants from you.

Does he or she think you are an important witness, or are they targeting you as the main suspect in a criminal case?

Maybe they think they could make a case against you. Perhaps they are trying to leverage their information to get you to testify against someone else.

Are You a Witness in a Federal Investigation?

You may not even know you are a witness to something illegal if you become involved in a federal case. Moreover, being a witness is not necessarily bad.

Out of the three possibilities, this is by far the best possible position to be in during a federal investigation. It means the prosecuting attorney believes you physically witnessed a crime being committed or that you have knowledge of or property like documents proving a crime was committed.

However, your status in their investigation can change at any time during the investigation. You still need an attorney as early as possible in the investigation (hopefully before you speak to an agent). This is because you don’t know when that might happen, or what you could say that might trigger that change.

The last thing you want is to assume you are in the clear and give a federal agent the very information he or she needs to make their case against you.

Are You a Subject?

If you are a subject in a federal investigation, prosecutors believe you have been involved in criminal activity, but they aren’t building their case against you.

A prosecutor will be looking for ways you can help the investigation and will bring criminal charges against you as it helps his or her case. Being a subject may be one of the most confusing situations, and will require help to navigate.

When You Are the Target

The target of a federal investigation is the person agents are building their case against. In other words, the prosecutor is looking for ways to prove you are guilty of a crime.

One way you might find out you are the target of an investigation is by letter informing you of such.

Another way is if federal agents show up at your place of work or at your home with a warrant to search the premises. If this happens to you, the same rules apply to you as to a witness or to anyone coming into contact with law enforcement.

Don’t try to talk your way out of anything and contact an attorney right away. The truth is, you don’t know what evidence an agent has against you before you become aware of the investigation. He or she might have no case until you open your mouth.

Hire a skilled defense attorney to help you navigate when to speak and what to say. Additionally, if it becomes necessary, to fight for your freedom in court.

Experienced Federal Attorney in Michigan

Whether you are a witness, a subject, or the target of a federal investigation, it’s sure to be a scary and trying time.

You want someone by your side who has inside knowledge of the system and whose only job is to work for you.

Call my office today for your free consultation if you need help. We are always ready and available.

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