Target letters from federal law enforcement officials are extremely serious and must be acted upon immediately. If you receive a target letter, you need an attorney immediately. It is important that you contact an experienced Federal Criminal Defense Attorney immediately who will be able to review the letter with you and set out a plan to protect your rights and your future.
What Is a Target Letter?
A target letter is a letter sent out by the U.S. Attorney’s Office telling the recipient that they are the subject or “target” of a federal criminal investigation and possible prosecution. For a person to be a target, either the prosecutor must believe they have substantial evidence to link that person to a federal criminal act or a grand jury must have concluded that such evidence exists.
This is a common investigational technique utilized by the FBI, DEA, ATF and other federal law enforcement agencies. The agents send out the target letters as a way to make contact with the target prior to bringing charges. Their goal is to have the target come and provide information against themselves or others in an effort to “talk their way out of a charge.” When you voluntarily speak with an agent they are not required to read you your Miranda rights and they are allowed to lie and deceive you in an effort to get you to provide incriminating information.
Generally, it is never in your best interest to speak with a federal agent because they have all of the leverage. They have all of the “facts” and know what other parties are saying about you. They have seen the evidence and evaluated the testimony of other witnesses. All things that the defense is not entitled to view at this stage of an investigation. In certain circumstances, it is advantageous to speak with an agent. In that situation, it is best for you to have an attorney that speak on your behalf and obtain a Castigar letter or proffer letter from the U.S. Attorney’s office. This letter provides protection to the “target” in that anything you say cannot be used against you in court provided that you do not perjure yourself.
What Should I Do?
If you have received a target letter from federal prosecutors, you need to speak with an experienced Federal Criminal Defense Attorney. Your lawyer will be able to make contact with the U. S. Attorney’s Office on your behalf and will be your mouthpiece. Under no circumstance should you ever speak with any federal law enforcement official without your lawyer being present. Anything and everything that you say to the agents will be used against you in court. The agents are not there to help you but rather to build a case against you. If you were to lie or inadvertently not tell the truth to the agents, you could be prosecuted for Obstruction of Justice. It is always best to exercise your 5th Amendment rights and remain silent.
For more information on Federal Target Letters or if you have received a target letter call Fort Lauderdale Federal Criminal Defense Attorney David J. Sobel directly at 954-383-3000.