What Not To Do If You Are Under Federal Investigation
A federal investigation can be a worrying prospect for most people. Federal investigations often result in federal charges and the occasional long prison sentence. Individuals may be worried about their relationship with investigators and the potential for perjury. By following a few simple guidelines, individuals can ensure that their time under federal investigation goes as smoothly as possible.
Tell the truth
Individuals who are under federal investigation should always tell the truth to any investigator. They should take great care to ensure that their statements are truthful and could not be misconstrued as misleading or inaccurate in any way. Many individuals believe that this advice is given to prevent perjury. However, lies below the standard of perjury can also become problematic. A lie told to investigators may push those investigators to make an individual a target when they were previously only a person of interest. Prosecutors may be less willing to cooperate along with judges. In general, the entire tenor of an investigation may turn against an individual.
Do not talk to the media
Many individuals in high-profile cases have a large number of opportunities to tell the media their stories. The allure of a newspaper or television profile may seem irresistible. Individuals may feel like they have been wrongly accused and want to proclaim their innocence to as many people as possible. But everything said to a media outlet can be used against an individual in an investigation. They may give investigators new potential leads and lengthen an investigation long past its original end point.
Talking to the media also makes an individual seem self-important and self-aggrandizing. Federal investigators always suggest that an individual remain discrete about the details of a federal investigation in order to preserve the integrity of that investigation as it relates to other individuals. Speaking out insults the intelligence of a federal investigator and changes that investigator’s disposition to an individual. Talking to the media has a similar effect on investigations as telling any sort of a lie to an investigator. In addition to angering investigators, talking to the media may also violate gag orders that judges place on some federal investigations.
Listen to your lawyer
Individuals should, under all circumstances, listen to the advice of their lawyers. Many lawyers in federal cases have years of experience and a vast record of getting individuals out of investigations. They know vastly more about relevant laws and procedures than the targets of investigations do. The lawyer’s future employment and income resulting from a case depend on them winning the case. They have every incentive to fight as hard as possible in order to ensure that an individual wins their case or minimizes an investigation. The lawyer is legally forbidden from taking actions that are not in the best interests of their client.
Following the advice of a lawyer can help an individual avoid perjury and reduce the chances of an arrest or a conviction. Listening to and following the advice of a lawyer can also help an individual secure a better plea bargain. As soon as an individual is charged in an investigation, the prosecution and defense attorneys often begin discussing a potential plea. Prosecutors are more willing to work with a lawyer if they can trust that the lawyer’s client will actually follow what they originally agree to. Following a lawyer early on can help establish credibility for the later potential negotiations in an investigation.
A federal investigation does not guarantee charges or jail time. Many federal investigations sweep up hundreds of individuals in an effort not to file a vast number of charges but to find the truth. A federal investigation may be relegated to a few written answers and a short chat with an FBI agent. The best way for an individual to avert suspicion and close scrutiny is to act respectfully, tell the truth, and follow legal advice. These steps can ensure that an individual’s time as part of a federal investigation can end as quickly as possible.