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If you or someone close to you is facing criminal charges or is under investigation, it is important to take the necessary measures to ensure that the matter is heard in accordance with the rule of law. One of the well-known facts is that even innocent people to go to prison. You shouldn’t take a criminal case lying down just because you believe that you are innocent. Even if you have no idea about the charges being pressed against you, you should always prepare yourself adequately to prove your innocence. If the federal government is pursuing you, you might be in great jeopardy even though innocent. What may appear as a small issue might turn out to be a nightmare that will see your life turn upside down after you are handed a long sentence. If the government suspects your involvement in a federal criminal activity, you should seek the assistance of a criminal defense attorney with immediate effect even though you believe you are innocent.
The moment you learn about government investigations into your conduct, the first thing to do should be to contact a lawyer. You should not attempt to give a statement or even to contact the prosecution. If the prosecution wants you to respond to questions, you should remain silent until a lawyer is present. You should be polite but firm in asking to be accorded the right to legal representation. Do not bother asking the police if you need a lawyer since they will tell you that you do not. You must say to the police or the feds that you will not answer any question without a lawyer being present.
In case you find yourself being interrogated by a state prosecutor, you can opt to remain silent. Silence cannot be used against you as opposed to denial. Do not attempt to say that you have no idea about the accusations, but instead make it clear that you need to talk to a lawyer first.
If the government is investigating you, one thing that you would want to know is the evidence that they have against you. It is only then that you can be in a position to challenge their evidence. However, it is important to note that there are rules that determine the evidence that can be availed to you and when exactly you can get it.
During federal investigation
If you are under federal investigation but not yet charged formally, you might not have the right to access the evidence that the prosecution has against you. Your lawyer can only try to reach out to the prosecution and negotiate on your behalf to see if they can shed some light into the evidence they have against you. In most cases, the prosecutor will say that they can only allow you to see the evidence if you agree to a plea. Definitely, you will be concerned about the evidence that the prosecution is possessing against you. You’ll want to know what they have so that you can start preparing for a challenge. Unfortunately, the law does not give you the right to access information while you are under investigation.
Once you are charged
After you have been charged with a crime, the rules of engagement with the prosecution will change. At this stage, the evidence is given to you in waves. The first batch of information released to you will contain the information that the prosecutor presented to the grand jury for them to agree to an indictment. Other information will be released to you as the trial process continues. In most cases, the government will try to get you into a guilty plea instead of going home through the full trial. The trial will show your lawyer that they have watertight evidence against you that could lead to a longer sentence.
If at any point you agree to talk to the federal agents investigating your case, the chances are that you will receive memos containing the recordings of the statements you made at that point.
In the earlier stages of the case, you are likely to receive personal details that connect you to the crime. Information such as bank statements, credit card statements, tracking records, and cellphone records will be provided. In some cases, the evidence might come in the form of thousands of pages.
Evidence that you were not involved
If the government has any evidence that you did not commit the crime, they are supposed to reveal that information. That could come in the form of a person they interviewed in the process of investigation. However, it is a practice in many courts and with many prosecutors to withhold such information until the case goes to trial. In case you want to take a guilty plea, that information may not be released to you. What this means is that you might enter into a guilty plea even without understanding that the government does not have sufficient evidence.
Statements from government witnesses
If the government calls a witness to testify, they must present a copy of the witness statement to you. Such information should be released after the witness has testified and before your lawyer engages the prosecution witness to cross-examination. In some cases, the court might allow you to get that evidence at the preliminary stages of your trial.