What To Do First If You’re Involved in a Federal Investigation
Being involved in a federal investigation can be a life-changing process. The investigations can be quite intrusive and can significantly damage your reputation. If you make the right moves, though, you can help to protect youtself during this process.
Call an Attorney
The first thing you should do after finding out that you’re involved in a federal investigation is to hire an attorney. A good lawyer is a necessity when dealing with any type of investigation, of course, but it often seems even more prudent when you’re dealing with any type of federal issue. After all, federal investigations can often seem significantly more severe and may mean that you have much more to lose.
Make sure that you work with an attorney who has a background in federal law as well as in the particulars of your own case. A good attorney will provide you with invaluable advice as you make your way through the investigation. Despite popular opinion, innocent people absolutely need the help of an attorney to avoid having their rights abrogated.
Be Aware of the Investigation
The next step is to be aware of exactly what the investigation entails. You do have a right to know why you are being investigated, even if those in charge of the investigation are not forthcoming about the full scope of what’s going on. You absolutely need to figure out why you are the subject of a federal investigation, what the federal agency in question is looking for, and what you need to do to protect yourself. Gathering this type of information can be difficult, but that’s why you’re working with an attorney.
The goal here is twofold. First and foremost, you are looking to protect yourself. It is important, though, that you know exactly what you need to do to stay in compliance with the investigation. Knowing the scope of what’s going on will help you to ensure that you’re not making any moves that could get you in further trouble.
Gather Your Records
A significant amount of time during a federal investigation will be spent gathering evidence. It is not, however, just the job of the investigating agency to find whatever records they need. It is also your job to make sure that those records are not destroyed during the course of the investigation. Doing so would be considered obstruction of justice and could have some fairly serious results. As such, it’s important that you begin to gather whatever records the federal agency demands during this investigation.
Don’t just count on having the files you need available. Make sure that you have access to any backups, whether physical or electronic in nature. Make sure that you hand over everything that the federal agents ask of you, as failure to do so might land you in even more trouble. Having your documents ready is usually a good way to ensure that you are seen as cooperative.
It’s important that you refrain from talking to anyone about the investigation. There are many good reasons to avoid doing so, ranging from avoiding another obstruction charge to expanding the potential witness pool if and when charges are formally brought against you. While you might want the rest of the world to see your side of the story, it’s important that you keep quiet.
If you can’t be quiet, it’s important that you tell the truth. Lying to the government is a very serious offense and one that absolutely will be prosecuted if it is discovered. It’s better to stay silent than to tell a lie, so make sure that you consult with your attorney before you make any type of public statement. It’s natural to want to speak out against a perceived injustice, but it’s not always the best move from a legal standpoint.
Always remember that being involved in a federal investigation is a serious matter. You should absolutely get representation as soon as possible and make sure that you are ready to comply with any legally allowable requests made by the investigators. You have a chance to make it through this process with your reputation intact, but only if you follow the correct steps.