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How to Respond when an OIG Agent Wants to Talk

July 8, 2020 Federal Criminal Attorneys

Finding out that you are under investigation for a federal offense can be an overwhelming and confusing experience. If a federal agent catches you unawares and begins to fire questions at you at work, for example, you may inadvertently say things that you’ll regret in the future. You are advised under such circumstances to take a moment and think about the potential consequences of talking with the agent.  Should you decide that it is the best course of action to move ahead in your case, set up a meeting to talk with them after first speaking with your federal defense attorney. They have a way of making civilians feel forced to answer their questions, but it’s important to remember that the Fifth Amendment protects you from answering questions that could be used to incriminate you.  Bear in mind that you always have the right to remain silent. It is up to you to choose whether or not you talk to any federal agent.

Your decision to talk to an agent from the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) is critical and may have a significant impact on the results of your case. Any details you volunteer to them has the potential to be used against you in court, making it crucial for you to cautiously consider what questions you are going to answer. Consulting with your attorney is a good idea.  He or she can coach you to help you avoid self-incrimination, putting you that much closer to a favorable outcome in your case. 

What Types of Matters do OIG Agents Investigate?

Agents of the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), investigate a broad array of matters.  Cases they work on include fraud, administration improprieties, employee misconduct, other ethical and compliance concerns, and many more. If you believe that you may be under investigation, the best first step you should take is securing a defense lawyer who has expertise in these kinds of cases. Your attorney will guide you through every step of your case and fight to protect your rights. Retaining a top-tier lawyer is the best way to make certain that you receive a fair chance at justice.

Employee Obligation During the Course of an OIG Investigation

Employees are obligated to fully cooperate with any OIG investigation that is taking place at their job.  Nevertheless, that obligation doesn’t strip you of your right to an attorney.  Also, you should certainly exercise your right to remain silent until you have a chance to have a lawyer can advise you. Your requirement to cooperate with the investigation normally includes answering the agent’s questions honestly, as well as providing any information requested that is in the employee’s possession. All of the agent’s questions should be answered with specific details.  This way, you avoid the appearance that you may be withholding information, though your lawyer can advise you on what you specifically need to disclose in detail. Any employee that has been contacted regarding an investigation can and should inform management and their attorneys, but should also avoid discussing the matter with anyone else.

Your Fifth Amendment Right During an OIG Investigation

Again, employees are legally obligated to speak with OIG agents, with the exception of any questions could result in self-incrimination. Nonetheless, you should contact a lawyer before you take any action in an investigation. The Fifth Amendment of the constitution protects individuals from providing information that could be used against them in a criminal proceeding.  If you are under investigation, then your statements will likely be relevant. In some situations, employees may be granted immunity against criminal prosecution and then be required to share any information they have. Bringing in an attorney will help you navigate the more confusing elements of your case and guide your interaction with the OIG.  This will put you in position to be successful in your defense.

OIG Agent Investigation Defense

Taking thoughtful action at the start of your case will make it easier for you throughout the whole investigative process. Contact a lawyer and get more information about your rights and choices before opting to speak with an OIG agent. If you do speak with an OIG agent, which again, you should not do without at least first consulting with a lawyer, remember to never give any false information, withhold any evidence, or destroy any evidence. These actions will result in much bigger problems in the long run for you. Work with a qualified lawyer to learn about the options available in your matter to get on the road to clearing your name.

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