When a person is under investigation, it’s important to remember that everything they say can be used against them. This is why contacting a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible is critical. Being a target of a federal investigation can feel like your life is on hold. You’re unsure when the investigation will end and what you could be accused of.
During the pre-filing period, you may be contacted by federal agents and interviewed about criminal allegations made against you. This is a very stressful time for anyone. If you have to be interviewed, the best thing to do is get a lawyer to talk to the investigators. People attempting to represent themselves during this time often make poor judgment calls and unintentionally say things that incriminate themselves.
Read this article to learn more about how an experienced attorney can help shield you from the government’s relentless and often unscrupulous tactics to secure convictions. People who believe they are under investigation will usually know it because the investigators have contacted them, their friends, or their family members.
Their employers question them about criminal activities that allegedly occurred. They will also be subject to surveillance and other types of monitoring. If they are contacted by financial institutions requesting information, this also indicates that they are under investigation. When the investigation concludes, the law enforcement agency will forward its findings to the prosecution agency (district attorney, DOJ, etc.).
However, it is essential to note that even if the law enforcement agency recommends prosecuting the investigated person or entity, the prosecuting agency is not obligated to file criminal charges. Based on the evidence it has reviewed, the prosecution agency will decide whether or not it is appropriate to pursue a case. This is known as prosecutorial discretion.
If the investigation is a response to an active event and a tactical response, or if it’s become a controlled situation and a strategic investigative response, investigators will begin to build their case against suspects. They will do this by gathering information, analyzing it, developing theories, validating them, suspect identification, and forming reasonable grounds to arrest, search, or lay charges.
They will also seek to collect evidence, obtain statements from witnesses, and secure a warrant. It’s common for police or detectives to contact your family, friends, and co-workers to discuss their investigation. They may say they want to hear your side of the story.
However, it is essential to understand that this tactic is used to find as much evidence as possible against you, and your words can be twisted in the worst way to make you look guilty. That’s why you must always invoke your right to remain silent and never speak to law enforcement without an attorney.
A lawyer can also challenge the statements of so-called witnesses and have their testimony deemed inadmissible. This can significantly impact the case and, in many cases, keep you out of jail. If you’ve been formally charged with a crime, you’ll attend an arraignment/pretrial conference, and your attorney will review the prosecutor’s file.
This is when your attorney can identify problems with the evidence and start to negotiate a fair plea bargain. There will be several hearings before the case goes to trial. Some of these hearings will include a preliminary hearing where a judge determines probable cause that you committed a felony and should be arrested and a pretrial conference where attorneys report on the status of their case. Other hearings include motions to secure or exclude evidence, change venue, etc. You must have a criminal defense attorney who can provide guidance and support throughout the process.