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What To Do First If You Receive A Federal Target Letter

By Spodek Law Group | November 1, 2021
(Last Updated On: November 1, 2021)

Samples of Federal Target Letters from U.S. Attorney’s Offices

Should you find out that you are the subject of a federal investigation, you will customarily be notified at some point by way of a target letter.  The letter will tell you which area of the law the offense pertains to, and it will likely request your cooperation with the investigation. Be advised that by the time you get a target letter, you will probably already know or at least have some suspicion that you are under investigation. Federal agents might have already questioned you or loved ones by that time, or perhaps even presented a search warrant at your door. Depending on the details of the offense you allegedly committed, you could be under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), or any of a multitude of other federal agencies. 

No matter what the specifics of your crime, it is important that you move fast to get in touch with a skilled federal defense lawyer who can represent you and stand up for  your rights throughout every phase of your case.

If you have received a target letter or are under investigation, contact an experienced, licensed federal defense attorney as soon as possible to get advice about how to deal with the investigation and respond to the target letter.

Receiving a Federal Target Letter from a U.S. Attorney

When you receive a target letter, it is an indicator that you are under investigation and are in immediate need of a highly skilled defense lawyer. You should consider yourself at risk of imminent arrest.  Rather than scrambling to source adequate representation in reaction to an inconvenient circumstance, proactively connect with a lawyer who can defend you starting right now.

The target letter will be addressed to you from the U.S. attorney in the district where your case is being handled. The letter will probably tell you what agency is investigating you, and also inform you of what the charges are connected to. The letter will also likely offer you an opportunity to resolve the matter before you are indicted and arrested. You must never assume that this means you can efficiently resolve your case by working with the very entity that is trying to convict you. You should definitely consult with an attorney for this.  Make sure to have your lawyer present anytime you are meeting with federal agents or the U.S. attorney.

The target letter may also lay out certain rights that you have, for example:

  • The right to remain silent;
  • The right against self-incrimination;
  • The right to an attorney.

It is very important indeed to exercise these rights to your advantage, and to quickly select an attorney who can guide your next steps. 

A Sample of a Federal Target Letter from the U.S. Attorney’s Office

There are a variety of different target letters available on the United States Attorney website.  These include letters for cases involving document subpoenas and grand juries. target letters can also be used to request a meeting, or to request a lawyer call. 

Here below is sample of the possible text of a target letter:

U.S. Attorney’s Office Header

Dear {Subject of Investigation}:

{FBI/DEA/IRS/Other Agency} is investigating you in connection with {offense}.

We are preparing to present evidence to a grand jury and seek indictment and an arrest. If you would like to resolve this matter before a possible warrant is issued, please contact before {date}. Please have an attorney represent you at this meeting.

If you cannot afford an attorney, you may be eligible for a court-appointed lawyer. Please complete the attached form and present it to the Office of the Federal Public Defender.

Sincerely,

U.S. Attorney

Speed and Skill

Two things are critical in the handling of a federal investigation: speed and skill. You must act fast to secure representation and to leap into action before the U.S. attorney has time to build a convincing case against you. You should get yourself a lawyer who has what it takes to win, regardless of whether he or she is up against the unlimited resources of the federal government.

What To Do First If You Get A Target Letter

Have you ever received a target letter? If you have never received, it is most likely you do not understand what it is. A target letter is a written document sent by the United States attorney to an individual stating that they are a target of a federal criminal investigation. It is a letter that asks you to co-operate by providing the assistance needed to complete the investigations. In the letter will be information on what federal crimes you are facing and what they would like you to do as a measure of cooperation. Before a target letter is sent to you, the chances are that an agent from an investigating body will have contacted you.

If you received a target letter

If you received a target letter from a federal prosecutor saying that you are a subject of an investigation by a grand jury, there are some steps that you need to take immediately. These are steps that will ensure that you are in a position to respond adequately to the demands of the prosecutor.

Hire a lawyer

It is common that whenever you find yourself under investigation or facing charges, you will need to hire the services of a lawyer. However, it is possible that if you are reading this article, you are already in the process of hiring a lawyer. Maybe you are asking yourself how you will find a lawyer who will help you to deal with the charges facing you. If you know how to hire a good lawyer, then you’ll be on your way to responding appropriately to the target letter.

The process of hiring a lawyer should be based on the crimes you are being investigated for. If you are facing a federal criminal investigation, you’ll need to have the services of a federal criminal defense lawyer who is adequately furnished with knowledge on how to deal with such issues. If it is bank fraud, you need the services of a lawyer who has experience in that field. It’s also important to take into consideration that there are thousands of statute under the U.S Justice System and they are applied differently depending on the jurisdiction. So, it is important to hire a lawyer who is familiar with the statute of your area.

Do you respond to the target letter?

Whenever you receive a target letter, there is without a doubt something that the prosecutor won’t you to do. The letter might be asking you to present yourself for a meeting with the team investigating the matter you are associated with. Others will ask you to present yourself before a grand jury to give a testimony. Some target letters will ask you to hire the services of a lawyer who will then contact the prosecutor. Regardless of the request contained in the target letter, the prudent decision to make is to hire a lawyer who will, in turn, contact the prosecutor on your behalf. Do not attempt it call the prosecutor by yourself since you might not understand the legal implication of your actions. The prosecutor can use such an opportunity to corner you into a position that will negatively affect your defense.

A target

In any case of a federal criminal investigation, the people involved are classified into three categories namely subject, witness and target. If you are identified as a target, it means that the investigators are looking into your conduct. The investigating agency considers you as the person responsible for the crime committed. If you are a subject, it means that the federal agents have identified you with the crime committed, but they need you to provide information that they believe you might possess, but that does not necessarily mean that you are to be prosecuted. Clearly, you do not want to be a target since you are likely to be the one facing charges in a court of law.

What will happen?

When the government sends you a target letter, it might be asking you to join them at the negotiating table so that you can take a plea and avoid a situation where you will be formally indicted. In this case, the prosecutor will provide some information but not as much as what would happen in a court of law. At this stage, you and your lawyer should consider the information that the government has and what is likely to happen if the case goes to trial. In case you take the plea, chances are that the government will not press charges in court.

If the government has no intentions of prosecuting you, your lawyers will liaise with the prosecutor and later with you with the aim of making a presentation and why the prosecution should not initiate charges against you. It is the role of the lawyer to cushion the client from the prosecution at the earliest possible stage. It is therefore important to get a qualified lawyer who understands these issues.

The fact that you have received a target letter does not mean that you’ll ever be prosecuted. You can receive it yet nothing will ever happen to you. Maybe the prosecutor was reassigned to another case or retired.

What To Do First If You Get A Target Letter?

Federal criminal investigations are often large in scope, are intricate, and potentially involve numerous individuals. Federal criminal charges are serious accusations. Therefore, the government usually exercises significant caution when determining which individuals to formally accuse.

Under specific circumstances, subjects who said bureaucracy might believe had some involvement in varying federal criminal offenses might be sent a document called a target letter.

The Spodek Law Group

The Spodek Law Group, a team of skilled federal criminal defense lawyers serving New Jersey residents, requests their followers read this piece offering explanation regarding what a target letter is, in addition to the most appropriate actions those receiving said correspondences should take.

 

Definition

Federal government officials draft target letters to inform intended recipients that they might soon be subject to federal criminal prosecution.
These documents are authored following an investigation. Said undertakings often yield enough evidence to suggest that letter recipients engaged in some type of wrongdoing. Typically, however, target letters are issued to those suspected of engaging in one or more forms of white-collar offenses.

Information Contained Within

Said correspondences usually contain several key facets of information including the specific act the accused is believed to have committed, information on how to obtain legal representation should they not be able to afford said benefit, the alleged individual’s involvement in a grand jury investigations, and said subject’s right to remain silent.
Furthermore, the document might warn the recipient not take any potentially detrimental actions that might hinder or interfere with the ongoing investigation and may even invite said party to further discuss the issue with prosecutors.

Are Target Letters Merely A Prelude To Criminal Charges?

The short answer to this question is not necessarily. Occasionally, prosecutors cannot find enough credible evidence to proceed with charges or formal indictments.

Steps Recipients Are Encouraged To Take

Do Not Act Impulsively

Granted, receiving such a correspondence is stressful. That said, the individual in question should not make any rash decisions. They should, however, refrain from engaging in any actions federal authorities caution them not to partake in.

Consult With An Experienced Attorney

Again, it is crucial to reiterate that federal criminal charges are often complex. Therefore, target letter recipients are strongly encouraged to consult with an experienced federal criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Said legal professionals can consult with prosecutors on the client’s behalf and learn important information such as if the government intends to press charges, discover any particulars about the investigation prosecutors are at liberty to disclose, and agree upon possible ways the underlying issue can be resolved.

Effective federal criminal lawyers might be able to convince prosecutors to dismiss associated charges. In other events, said professionals might persuade prosecuting entities to consider potential targets as witnesses.

For the proper dispensation like immunity or a reduced sentence, a targeted subject could provide valuable information about a specific offense or possesses credible evidence about those masterminding such acts.

The Benefits Of Sending Target Letters

Target letters are far less formal than other means of pursuing prospective subjects of criminal investigations. Legal instruments like subpoenas, the dispatching of federal agents to conduct target interviews, and search warrant executions cannot be undertaken without a judge’s authorization.

Many legal scholars maintain that target letters are submitted to individuals prosecutors believe might be able to help them and encourage intended recipients to cooperate.

Potential Defensive Strategies

Most federal criminal defense attorneys maintain that a target letter recipient should never subscribe to a wait and see approach. Rather, said individual and their legal representation should promptly and actively respond to such inquiry.

The government might invite cooperation and be willing to hear what the recipient has to say but will not wait forever. Their duty is to stop a given crime and bring its alleged perpetrators to justice.

Quick intervention is needed to yield the target letter grantee potentially favorable outcomes such as:

Not Being Arrested

Once a client of a reputable criminal defense attorney, government officials are less likely to be formally arrested.

Avoiding Charges

Skilled defense attorneys might discover credible evidence that might help exonerate their client and help them avoid formal charges.

Contacting Us

Individuals who have received target letters are firmly urged to contact the legal professionals at the Spodek Law Firm. We have extensive experience handling such cases, can review a client’s specific circumstances, and formulate the best possible response strategy.

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