15 Sep 23

Receiving a Target Letter From the FBI Public Corruption Unit: Strategies

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Last Updated on: 24th September 2023, 03:48 pm

Receiving a Target Letter From the FBI Public Corruption Unit: Strategies

Getting a target letter from the FBI’s Public Corruption Unit can be scary and overwhelming. This type of letter means you’re being investigated for public corruption crimes like bribery, extortion, or embezzlement[1]. The letter says you’re a “target” of an investigation, which means prosecutors think they have enough evidence to charge you with a crime[4]. What should you do if you get one of these letters? Here are some helpful strategies:

Don’t Panic

First, take a deep breath. Just because you got a target letter doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be indicted. Lots of investigations don’t end up in criminal charges[4]. Try to stay calm and think through your next steps.

Get a Lawyer

You need an experienced white collar criminal defense lawyer, stat. Seriously, call one immediately after reading the letter. Don’t talk to investigators without your attorney present. A good lawyer can review the evidence, negotiate with prosecutors, and protect your rights[5].

Don’t Destroy Evidence

Resist the urge to delete emails or shred documents. That can get you charged with obstruction of justice. Let your lawyer deal with the evidence.

Limit Communications

Be very careful about what you say regarding the investigation, even to close friends or family. Don’t post about it on social media. Prosecutors can use anything you say against you.

Get Your Finances in Order

These investigations can go on for months or years. Get your financial house in order in case you need money for legal fees or fines down the road. Cut unnecessary spending too.

Review the Evidence

Your lawyer will comb through the evidence listed in the letter. Look for any holes or inaccuracies you can explain. For example, a fuzzy photograph they claim is you taking a bribe.

Consider Proactive Steps

In some cases, it may make sense to contact prosecutors directly and present your side of the story. Or have your employer do an internal investigation. Your lawyer can advise if being proactive could help.

Explore Alternatives to Trial

Your attorney may be able to negotiate a plea deal or pretrial diversion program. These options avoid the time and expense of a trial you could lose.

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Don’t Try to Flee

Never, ever try to flee the country to avoid prosecution. Not only is it illegal, but it destroys your credibility.

Understand the Consequences

If convicted at trial, understand that you could face serious fines, restitution, and years in federal prison. The consequences can be severe.

Consider the Effect on Your Career

Being convicted of corruption crimes can end political careers and professional licenses. Factor this in when deciding how to proceed.

Lean on Your Support System

Don’t isolate yourself. Spend time with family and close friends for emotional support during this difficult time. Having people in your corner helps.

Dealing with a target letter is daunting, but having an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer can really help even the odds. Don’t go it alone. With the right legal strategy, these investigations don’t always end with criminal charges. Stay strong!


[1] Responding to Target Letters From the FBI’s Public Corruption Unit

[2] Responding to Target Letters From the FBI Public Corruption Unit

[3] DOJ, U.S. Attorney, or FBI Target Letter?

[4] Target Letters From Federal Law Enforcement

[5] What to Do if You Receive a Target Letter from the FBI

[6] Got a Grand Jury Investigation Target Letter?