Have You Received a Federal Target Letter? What You Need to Know About Target Letters at a Glance

If you have received a target letter, you undoubtedly have many questions about what this means for you and what your next steps should be. In this post, we will seek to answer the most basic questions regarding federal target letters and direct you to the best possible response: hiring skilled federal criminal defense attorneys such as those at Burnham & Gorokhov, PLLC.

What Is a Target Letter?

A target letter is a letter notifying an individual that he or she is a target for potential prosecution, based on the prosecutor’s belief that the recipient has committed a crime. It often informs the recipient that he or she will be required to appear as a witness before a grand jury.

Sometimes a target letter will warn the recipient not to destroy evidence, as that would be obstruction of justice. A target letter may urge the recipient to contact the prosecutor to resolve the matter.

Who Sends Target Letters?

Federal agencies, including the FBI, and District Attorneys may issue target letters.

How Might You Receive a Target Letter?

Target letters typically are hand-delivered by federal agents, sometimes following an attempt to interview you, sometimes without warning. Agents may attempt to speak with you during the delivery; the best course is to invoke your right to remain silent.

Why Would You Receive a Target Letter?

If you have received a target letter, it means that federal prosecutors or agents believe there is substantial evidence linking you to criminal conduct and authorities believe you may be involved in a crime. There is a significant probability that you will be indicted.

Does the Government Have to Issue Target Letters?

No. The government has no legal obligation to inform persons under investigation that they are targets. Because of the risk of a target destroying evidence or fleeing, most targets do not receive notification that they are such from the government. If you receive a target letter, this suggests that the government believes you can be convinced to talk and that you have information they need.

Most Importantly—What Should You Do If You Receive a Target Letter?

If you receive a target letter, you should not speak with the investigators or prosecutor. You should immediately contact the attorneys at Burnham & Gorokhov, PLLC, to begin a strategic and proactive defense even before charges are filed. The earlier you contact us, the more flexibility we have in defending you. It is possible we can even prevent charges from being filed following your receipt of a target letter.

In white collar crime cases, a skilled federal criminal defense attorney can persuade a prosecutor to close an investigation into a target letter recipient or treat the recipient as a witness rather than a potential defendant.  We provide advice to clients as to whether speaking with investigators or otherwise cooperating would be in their best interest.

If you have received a target letter or have other reasons to believe you are under federal investigation, contact Burnham & Gorokhov, PLLC, as soon as possible.

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