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Talking to Federal Agents After a Target Letter: Why You Shouldn’t Do It Without an Attorney

Talking to Federal Agents After a Target Letter: Why You Shouldn’t Do It Without an Attorney

So you got a letter in the mail from the FBI or some other federal agency saying you’re the “target” of an investigation. Scary stuff! This is known as a “target letter” and it means the government thinks you did something illegal.

Your first instinct might be to call up the agents and explain your side of the story. I totally get it – you want to clear this whole thing up. But that can be a big mistake, and make your situation way worse. Here’s why you shouldn’t talk to federal agents without an attorney after getting a target letter.

What is a Target Letter?

A target letter is how the government tells you that you’re being investigated for a federal crime. It usually says:

  • You’re the “target” of an investigation
  • What crime they think you did
  • You can call the prosecutor to “explain”
  • You have the right to an attorney

It’s basically a heads up that you might get charged. The government doesn’t have to send one, but if you get one it’s pretty serious. It means they have evidence against you and charges are likely coming.

Why Do They Send Target Letters?

Prosecutors send target letters for a few reasons:

  • To notify you that charges are probably coming
  • To get you to cooperate and possibly take a plea deal
  • To get more evidence from you

The letter will often say you can call the prosecutor to “explain” your side. But this is usually a trap! They’re hoping you’ll say something incriminating they can use against you.

Why You Shouldn’t Talk Without a Lawyer

Here’s why you shouldn’t call the agents or prosecutor after getting a target letter:

Christine Twomey
Christine Twomey
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Guerline Menard
Guerline Menard
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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!
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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.
  • Anything you say can be used against you, even if you’re innocent
  • You could accidentally lie and get charged with false statements
  • You give up your leverage to negotiate a plea deal
  • You might admit to something without realizing it
  • You won’t know the strength of their evidence

See, federal agents are really good at getting people to talk – even innocent folks. They’ll act all friendly and pretend they just want to “clear things up.” But they’re building a case against you. Even if you don’t think you did anything wrong, talking is incredibly risky.

Get a Lawyer First

Here’s what you should do if you get a target letter:

  1. Don’t talk to the agents or anyone else about the investigation
  2. Hire an experienced federal defense lawyer
  3. Have the lawyer contact the prosecutor to get info
  4. Discuss your options – cooperate, negotiate, go to trial, etc.
  5. Follow your lawyer’s advice about whether to testify or make a statement

Having an experienced lawyer on your side levels the playing field. They’ll deal with the agents and prosecutor for you. They’ll find out what evidence the government has, pick apart any weaknesses, and negotiate the best resolution.

Without a lawyer, you’re basically going into a gunfight empty-handed. So don’t let your anxiety get the best of you and do something rash. Getting charged with a federal crime is terrifying. Having an advocate on your side can make all the difference.

The government doesn’t send target letters randomly – their evidence probably sounds pretty convincing. So don’t wait and hope it all goes away. The sooner you hire a lawyer after getting a target letter, the better.

Common Mistakes People Make

Here are some of the biggest mistakes people make after getting a target letter:

  • Ignoring it: Hoping it’ll just go away. But the investigation will keep going with or without you.
  • Panicking: Destroying evidence or fleeing. This almost always makes things much worse!
  • Talking to witnesses: Witnesses could be cooperating, so this could really backfire.
  • Lying to agents: Even if you’re innocent, getting charged with false statements is easy.
  • Waiting too long: Evidence can disappear and memories fade over time.

All these can really come back to bite you. So don’t go it alone – protect yourself by hiring an experienced federal defense lawyer right away.


Getting a target letter feels terrifying. Your instinct is probably to call the agents and set things straight. But without an experienced lawyer on your side, that’s incredibly risky and can do more harm than good. Anything you say can literally be used against you, even if you’re 100% innocent.

So take a deep breath, don’t panic, and call a trusted federal defense attorney. Having an expert defend you against the government’s charges can make all the difference. They’ll protect your rights, avoid mistakes, and get you the best possible outcome.

The stakes are high, so don’t go through this alone. Get help from someone who’s been there before. Hiring a great lawyer is your best shot at protecting your future after a target letter.

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