Have you ever received a target letter? If you have never received, it is most likely you do not understand what it is. A target letter is a written document sent by the United States attorney to an individual stating that they are a target of a federal criminal investigation. It is a letter that asks you to co-operate by providing the assistance needed to complete the investigations. In the letter will be information on what federal crimes you are facing and what they would like you to do as a measure of cooperation. Before a target letter is sent to you, the chances are that an agent from an investigating body will have contacted you.
If you received a target letter from a federal prosecutor saying that you are a subject of an investigation by a grand jury, there are some steps that you need to take immediately. These are steps that will ensure that you are in a position to respond adequately to the demands of the prosecutor.
Hire a lawyer
It is common that whenever you find yourself under investigation or facing charges, you will need to hire the services of a lawyer. However, it is possible that if you are reading this article, you are already in the process of hiring a lawyer. Maybe you are asking yourself how you will find a lawyer who will help you to deal with the charges facing you. If you know how to hire a good lawyer, then you’ll be on your way to responding appropriately to the target letter.
The process of hiring a lawyer should be based on the crimes you are being investigated for. If you are facing a federal criminal investigation, you’ll need to have the services of a federal criminal defense lawyer who is adequately furnished with knowledge on how to deal with such issues. If it is bank fraud, you need the services of a lawyer who has experience in that field. It’s also important to take into consideration that there are thousands of statute under the U.S Justice System and they are applied differently depending on the jurisdiction. So, it is important to hire a lawyer who is familiar with the statute of your area.
Do you respond to the target letter?
Whenever you receive a target letter, there is without a doubt something that the prosecutor won’t you to do. The letter might be asking you to present yourself for a meeting with the team investigating the matter you are associated with. Others will ask you to present yourself before a grand jury to give a testimony. Some target letters will ask you to hire the services of a lawyer who will then contact the prosecutor. Regardless of the request contained in the target letter, the prudent decision to make is to hire a lawyer who will, in turn, contact the prosecutor on your behalf. Do not attempt it call the prosecutor by yourself since you might not understand the legal implication of your actions. The prosecutor can use such an opportunity to corner you into a position that will negatively affect your defense.
In any case of a federal criminal investigation, the people involved are classified into three categories namely subject, witness and target. If you are identified as a target, it means that the investigators are looking into your conduct. The investigating agency considers you as the person responsible for the crime committed. If you are a subject, it means that the federal agents have identified you with the crime committed, but they need you to provide information that they believe you might possess, but that does not necessarily mean that you are to be prosecuted. Clearly, you do not want to be a target since you are likely to be the one facing charges in a court of law.
What will happen?
When the government sends you a target letter, it might be asking you to join them at the negotiating table so that you can take a plea and avoid a situation where you will be formally indicted. In this case, the prosecutor will provide some information but not as much as what would happen in a court of law. At this stage, you and your lawyer should consider the information that the government has and what is likely to happen if the case goes to trial. In case you take the plea, chances are that the government will not press charges in court.
If the government has no intentions of prosecuting you, your lawyers will liaise with the prosecutor and later with you with the aim of making a presentation and why the prosecution should not initiate charges against you. It is the role of the lawyer to cushion the client from the prosecution at the earliest possible stage. It is therefore important to get a qualified lawyer who understands these issues.
The fact that you have received a target letter does not mean that you’ll ever be prosecuted. You can receive it yet nothing will ever happen to you. Maybe the prosecutor was reassigned to another case or retired.