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Federal Target Letters

Federal target letter

Many legal documents and procedures hide behind euphemisms, but a federal target letter sounds much worse than it is. If you receive a federal target letter, you are in less legal trouble than if your name comes up in a complaint or information, but a federal target letter is still a serious matter. A federal target letter does not mean that you are being charged with a crime, but it does mean that you are fewer than two degrees of separation from an investigation into a federal crime. Some of the same rights that apply to defendants in criminal cases also apply to recipients of federal target letters.

If you have received a federal target letter about an investigation into a federal financial crime case, you should contact a Texas white collar crime lawyer before you respond to the letter and contact prosecutors.

Why Does the Federal Government Send Target Letters?

U.S. attorneys send target letters to people that they believe know information relevant to a current investigation into a federal crime. They usually occur in the case of financial crimes cases, including but not limited to money laundering, insider trading, embezzlement, wire fraud, and identity theft cases, especially where prosecutors that multiple people cooperated in a criminal endeavor.

Most people who receive target letters receive them shortly before receiving a subpoena to testify before a grand jury. This means that if you receive a target letter, it usually means that someone you know is being suspected of a financial crime, and there is enough evidence against him or her that prosecutors have summoned a grand jury to vote on whether to charge the person with a crime.

The purpose of the target letter is to enable you, a witness to the alleged crime, to exercise your right to avoid self-incrimination. If you testify before the grand jury, as the court is ordering you to do, anything you say can and will be used against you.

What Should You Do If You Receive a Target Letter About a Financial Crime Investigation?

If you receive a federal target letter, you should hire a criminal defense lawyer, even though you have not been charged with a crime. If you request representation by a public defender, the court may assign one to represent you. It is better to hire your own defense lawyer, though, because public defenders are notoriously overwhelmed with a large number of cases and do not have as much time to devote to your case. Some people try to negotiate plea deals or immunity as soon as they receive a target letter, but pleading guilty is by no means your only option; a target letter does not mean checkmate. It does mean that you should talk to a lawyer and discuss questions the prosecution may ask and how to answer them truthfully without incriminating yourself, even if that means pleading with the Fifth Amendment.

Contact the Law Office of Patrick J. McLain, PLLC About Criminal Defense Cases

Dallas criminal defense lawyer can help you if you have received a federal target letter. Contact the Law Office of Patrick J. McLain, PLLC, in Dallas, Texas, to discuss your case.

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