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Federal Law Enforcement & Investigative Agencies

January 3, 2020

When cases are prosecuted in federal court, the prosecution is the United States government. Rather than being local police, the law enforcement agencies working with them are federal entities. There are a number of investigative federal agencies. While the FBI is the best known, it’s far from the only one.

Federal Bureau of Investigation

The special agents trained by the FBI are responsible for coordinating and handling every kind of criminal investigation. That includes terrorism, civil rights issues, drug distribution, bank robberies, public corruption, and white collar offenses. There are nearly four hundred resident agencies in the United States and more than fifty filed offices. Internationally, the FBI has over sixty liaison offices spread throughout other countries. FBI headquarters is located in Washington, D.C. About 13,600 individuals are trained special agents for the FBI.

Postal Inspection Service

This is a lesser known but vitally important investigation agency. The United States postal service is a government entity. The inspection service is responsible for investigating any crimes that might have been committed through misusing or abusing the federal postal system.

Some of the crimes being investigated are obvious. For example, if you steal your neighbor’s mail or commit mail fraud, it makes sense that the postal inspection service would be responsible for the investigation. But there are other circumstances where the agency might also get called in to investigate:

  • Distribution of drugs through packages or envelopes sent through the mail
  • Any conspiracy coordinated or executed through the mail
  • Health care fraud through the sending of fraudulent documents via the Postal Service
  • Tax evasion including money laundering through the Postal Service or use of the Postal Service to move undeclared income
  • Any crime that involved the US Postal Service in any way, at any point

This is one of the smaller federal investigation entities. There are only about 1,500 postal inspectors throughout the entire country. The inspection service has two service centers and eighteen field divisions. It also has a National Headquarters and National Forensic Laboratory.

Postal Inspectors don’t usually investigate cases completely by themselves. They’ll typically partner with another federal agency like the FBI, SEC, or IRS. The inspectors will investigate the pieces of the crime that were committed through the Postal Service and compile evidence.

Secret Service

The Secret Service has been operating as a federal law enforcement entity since 1865. The Secret Service is most famous for protecting the president. They’re also known for protecting the vice president, other government officials, presidential candidates, and select other national officials who require protection. Secret Service agents also provide protection to foreign dignitaries when need be.

What many people today don’t know is that the original purpose of the Secret Service was to lead investigations into counterfeit currency. In addition to providing protection to government officials and foreign diplomats, the Secret Service agents are tasked with investigating all crimes regarding the financial and monetary systems of the US.

The United States economy is an incredibly complex machine, so there’s a lot that’s covered under this. The Secret Service investigates cases of counterfeit currency, identity theft, money laundering, credit card fraud, computer and technology fraud, and financial institution fraud. Over 1,300 Secret Service agents are employed in 136 total field offices across the United States.

Internal Revenue Service

The IRS is responsible for coordinating and tracking taxes, including the collection of people’s taxes, the payment of tax returns, and the use of tax dollars by government institutions. There are multiple branches of the IRS that take care of different aspects of the government’s finances. The Criminal Investigation Division employs special agents that are trained to investigate federal tax offenses.

Some tax offenses are obvious, including money laundering, tax evasion, and flagrant violations of the federal Bank Secrecy Act. But the IRS is also responsible for investigating undeclared income from illegal drug distribution, bank fraud, healthcare fraud, welfare fraud, and other types of fraud.

The IRS has more rules than most other agencies regarding who is allowed to open investigations. Federal prosecutors and agents must first receive permission from headquarters before they can investigate a person’s tax offenses. About 2,600 IRS special agents are employed throughout the United States.

Department of Health and Human Services

There are special agents for the Department of Health and Human Services who have been trained in the investigation of criminal issues regarding federal healthcare. This includes healthcare fraud, which has become more heavily investigated over the past few years. To combat healthcare fraud on a systemic scale, the special agents have developed task forces and prevention teams. About 1,600 of these special agents work in 62 offices around the US. Their focus is on fraud committed against governmental healthcare programs.

Should You Talk to Federal Law Enforcement?

Federal agents will show up at your door and ask you questions if you are being investigated for federal crime, or if you have already been charged with a criminal offense. These agents may also approach your family or other contacts, or even ask to search your property. Sometimes, federal agents will send you a letter, called a target letter, which states that you are the subject of an investigation and asks you to come in and speak with the agents.

At this stage of your case, you might be pondering if you should talk to federal law enforcement, and what you might say if you do. You may even feel as if you really need to speak with federal agents in order to clear your name. However, remember that no matter what the details of your case may be, you should never speak to federal law enforcement without your federal criminal attorney present. If you don’t have a legal representative, secure one immediately. Get in touch with our defense team for a free initial case consultation and to learn more about what we can do to help you through your case.

I’m Under Investigation – Should I Speak with Federal Agents?

You will be investigated by federal agents rather than police when you are dealing with a federal criminal offense. The federal agency handling your criminal case depends greatly on the specific details of your situation. While drug crimes are usually investigated by the dea or U.S. Border Patrol, many federal offenses are investigated by the FBI. Some white collar offenses are investigated by the IRS. Our defense attorneys have experiences dealing with a variety of federal agencies, and know what it takes to protect clients accused of federal misdemeanors and felonies.

Speaking With Federal Agents after a Search Warrant

Turning away agents who are investigating you is one thing, but what if these agents come back with a warrant that allows them to stay on your property and search? You are legally obligated to let federal agents search whatever the warrant specifies. However, you must get in touch with a qualified defense lawyer right away and make sure you don’t say anything to federal agents while they are performing the search. Our defense lawyers will advise you on how to challenge unlawful searches and what you can say and do to defend yourself throughout the investigative process.

I Received a Target Letter – What Should I Do?

Every so often, you will be directly informed that you are the subject of an investigation through a target letter. This target letter will ask for your cooperation and can be very intimidating. Have a presence of mind and do not give the prosecution any answers until you are able to speak with your attorney. The early stages of a federal criminal case are critical, and it is vital to have a defense lawyer on your side—a lawyer who can set you up for success later on in your case. As one of the recognized defense firms, we will ensure you take appropriate steps to defend your best interests, and we will not rest until everything possible has been done to guarantee you receive top-notch criminal defense.

Don’t wait to get in touch with our qualified federal defense team so that you can begin communicating with the prosecution and handling the charges you are facing. We are always available to start defending you and can be reached by phone or online. No matter what stage of your case you are currently in, we can step in and help. With extensive experience fighting for cases that involve fraud, conspiracy, drugs, sex, and more, our knowledgeable defense lawyers know how to win in even the toughest situations. As soon as you reach out to us, you gain access to a talented team with so much capabilities in tough felony cases. Our team is committed to doing whatever it takes to defend you or your loved one as you progress through your criminal case. Why wait with so much potentially at stake? Every minute counts! Contact our defense team now and let us begin creating a solid and strategic defense.



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