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The Limited Proffer Session After Receipt of Target Letter: Strategic Considerations

March 21, 2024

Receiving a Target Letter: What to Expect and How to Respond

Getting a target letter from federal prosecutors can make your stomach drop. I know the feeling – it’s like getting called to the principal’s office times a thousand. But try not to panic. With some deep breaths and the help of an experienced attorney, you can get through this.

In this article, I’ll walk through what a target letter is, your options for responding, the pros and cons of a proffer session, and how to advocate for yourself while protecting your rights. I’ll also share some stories from my own experience as a federal defense lawyer to shed some light on how this process really goes down.

What Exactly is a Target Letter?

A target letter is a notification from the U.S. Attorney’s Office letting you know you’re under criminal investigation and could face charges [1]. It don’t mean you’re definitely getting indicted, but it does mean prosecutors have focused in on you as someone they might file charges against.

These letters are often sent after a grand jury investigation has been underway for a while. The goal is to shake loose more information that can help the government build its case. The letter will usually say something like “you are a target of an investigation” or “the government is considering seeking an indictment.” Scary stuff for sure!

You’ve Got Options for Responding

When that target letter shows up in your mailbox, you’ll probably feel overwhelmed and anxious. But don’t spiral! There are a few options for how to respond:

  • You can invoke your 5th Amendment right to remain silent. You’re not required to talk to investigators or testify to the grand jury.
  • You can voluntarily meet with prosecutors and investigators to tell your side of the story.
  • You can let your defense attorney interact with the government on your behalf.
  • You can explore a proffer session where you provide information in exchange for possible immunity.

Every case is different, so think through the pros and cons of each approach with your lawyer. They’ll help assess which strategy gives you the most leverage.

How a Proffer Session Could Help…or Hurt You

One option on the table may be a “proffer session” where you sit down with the prosecution team and provide information about the investigation. I’ve seen these go both ways – sometimes they help secure a dismissal, but other times they tank the whole case.

Christine Twomey
Christine Twomey
Just had my Divorce case settled 2 months ago after having a horrible experience with another firm. I couldn’t be happier with Claire Banks and Elizabeth Garvey with their outstanding professionalism in doing so with Spodek Law Group. Any time I needed questions answered they were always prompt in doing so with all my uncertainties after 30 yrs of marriage.I feel from the bottom of my heart you will NOT be disappointed with either one. Thanks a million.
Brendan huisman
Brendan huisman
Alex Zhik contacted me almost immediately when I reached out to Spodek for a consultation and was able to effectively communicate the path forward/consequences of my legal issue. I immediately agreed to hire Alex for his services and did not regret my choice. He was able to cover my case in court (with 1 day notice) and not only was he able to push my case down, he carefully negotiated a dismissal of the charge altogether. I highly recommend Spodek, and more specifically, Alex Zhik for all of your legal issues. Thanks guys!
Guerline Menard
Guerline Menard
Thanks again Spodek law firm, particularly Esq Claire Banks who stood right there with us up to the finish line. Attached photos taken right outside of the court building and the smile on our faces represented victory, a breath of fresh air and satisfaction. We are very happy that this is over and we can move on with our lives. Thanks Spodek law 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙌🏼❤️
Keisha Parris
Keisha Parris
Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
Taïko Beauty
Taïko Beauty
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence. Thank you team!
Anthony Williams
Anthony Williams
Hey, how you guys doing? Good afternoon my name is Anthony Williams I just want to give a great shout out to the team of. Spodek law group. It is such a honor to use them and to use their assistance through this whole case from start to finish. They did everything that they said they was gonna do and if it ever comes down to it, if I ever have to use them again, hands-down they will be the first law office at the top of my list, thank you guys so much. It was a pleasure having you guys by my side so if you guys ever need them, do not hesitate to pick up the phone and give them a call.
Loveth Okpedo
Loveth Okpedo
Very professional, very transparent, over all a great experience
Bee L
Bee L
Amazing experience with Spodek! Very professional lawyers who take your case seriously. They treated me with respect, were always available, and answered any and all questions. They were able to help me very successfully and removed a huge stress. Highly recommend.
divesh patel
divesh patel
I can't recommend Alex Zhik and Spodek Law Firm highly enough for their exceptional legal representation and personal mentorship. From the moment I engaged their services in October 2022, Alex took the time to understand my case thoroughly and provided guidance every step of the way. Alex's dedication to my case went above and beyond my expectations. His expertise, attention to detail, and commitment to achieving the best possible outcome were evident throughout the entire process. He took the time to mentor me, ensuring I understood the legal complexities involved to make informed decisions. Alex is the kind of guy you would want to have a beer with and has made a meaningful impact on me. I also want to acknowledge Todd Spodek, the leader of the firm, who played a crucial role in my case. His leadership and support bolstered the efforts of Alex, and his involvement highlighted the firm's commitment to excellence. Thanks to Alex Zhik and Todd Spodek, I achieved the outcome I desired, and I am incredibly grateful for their professionalism, expertise, and genuine care. If you're in need of legal representation, look no further than this outstanding team.

The upside is you get to tell your side of the story and possibly negotiate charging concessions or immunity. I once had a client avoid indictment altogether by convincing prosecutors in a proffer session that he had been clueless about the criminal activity [2].

But there are also huge risks to watch out for. Anything you say can be used against you if no deal is reached. And experienced agents may trick you into admitting things you shouldn’t. I’ll never forget the proffer session where my client didn’t realize his “hypothetical” scenarios actually described crimes!

Should You Consider a Proffer Session?

Every case has unique factors to weigh. In general, a proffer may make sense if:

  • The government’s evidence seems flimsy.
  • You have limited criminal exposure.
  • You have valuable information to exchange.
  • The charges carry high mandatory minimums.

But if you’re facing serious charges or have little to offer prosecutors, the risks probably aren’t worth it. Talk it through in depth with your lawyer before deciding.

How to Prepare for a Proffer

If you do proffer, take time to get ready. Thoroughly review the facts and documents. Make timelines and outlines. Practice answering likely questions. And know the proffer agreement terms inside out.

I once prepped a client for over 20 hours before his session! But it paid off – he avoided charges because we anticipated exactly what agents would ask.

What to Expect During the Proffer

Expect a conference room, the prosecutors and agents, and lots of pointed questions. They’ll press you on anything that sounds suspicious or incomplete. It can feel intimidating, but having your lawyer there will help.

No matter the pressure, only provide information you know for certain. Stick to the facts and don’t speculate. And decline to answer if a question seems inappropriate – that’s your right!

Possible Outcomes After the Proffer

Once you’ve proffered, prosecutors will evaluate your statement and decide next steps. Here’s what could happen:

  • They decline to prosecute if you convince them you had minimal involvement.
  • They offer a plea deal with lesser charges if you provide substantial cooperation.
  • They move forward with charges if they don’t find you credible.
  • They ask for additional proffer sessions to get more information.

It’s a waiting game at that point. Your attorney can negotiate the best resolution based on the prosecutor’s stance. I’ve had cases go both ways – just be prepared if charges do move forward.

Protecting Your Rights in a Proffer Session

To reduce risks in a proffer, get protections like [3]:

  • Immunity for any statements made.
  • Limits on what charges can be brought.
  • Agreement that your statement won’t be used as evidence.
  • Clarification on how information can be used if no final agreement is reached.

Your lawyer should fight hard to get the strongest protections possible in the proffer agreement. As the old saying goes, “hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.” Don’t let eagerness for charging leniency outweigh your caution.

If You Don’t Proffer, What Are Your Options?

Declining a proffer session doesn’t mean you’re giving up. You still have cards to play:

  • Invoke your 5th amendment right to remain silent[1].
  • Have your lawyer interact with prosecutors on your behalf.
  • Provide written statements instead of sitting for questioning.
  • Work towards a dismissal by identifying weaknesses in the government’s case.

An experienced federal defense lawyer can advise on the best approach. Every case has unique dynamics, so you want someone in your corner who can adapt.

How Do I Find the Right Attorney for My Situation?

Vet any lawyer thoroughly before hiring them. Look for these indicators of expertise[2]:

  • Extensive experience handling federal criminal cases similar to yours.
  • Strong record of positive outcomes in past cases.
  • Reputation for aggressively defending clients rights.
  • Clear communication skills and responsiveness.
  • Engages in thorough investigation and preparation.

Don’t just go with the first lawyer you find from a Google search. Getting the right defense can make all the difference.

What Should I Do After Getting a Target Letter?

Here are some steps to take if that letter arrives[3]:

  1. Remain calm – this isn’t over yet.
  2. Be extremely cautious about discussing the matter with anyone.
  3. Politely decline to speak with investigators.
  4. Hire an experienced federal defense lawyer immediately.
  5. Follow your lawyer’s advice about responding.
  6. Stay positive – people beat these investigations every day.

By keeping a level head and advocating for yourself, you can get through this. Don’t lose hope!

Answering Your Questions

I know this process raises so many questions and concerns. Please feel free to reach out if you want to talk through your specific situation. I’ll clarify anything you’re unsure about and point you towards good resources[4].

You don’t have to go through this alone. Together we can build an effective and empowering response. Things may look uncertain right now, but better days are ahead. Just stay focused on what you can control.

With preparation, perseverance, and a great lawyer on your side, you can get the fair outcome you deserve. I believe in you! And I’m here to help in any way I can[5].

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