A target letter is typically sent by federal prosecutors to individuals who are the target of a grand jury investigation. A target, per the U.S. Attorneys Manual, is “a person as to whom the prosecutor or the grand jury has substantial evidence linking him or her to the commission of a crime and who, in the judgment of the prosecutor, is a putative defendant.” Here are some instances when the federal government may send a target letter:
- Grand Jury Investigation: When a federal grand jury is investigating a potential crime and there is sufficient evidence or suspicion that an individual may have committed the offense, prosecutors may choose to send a target letter. The letter serves to notify the individual that they are the focus of the investigation and that charges may be brought against them.
- Gathering Testimony: In some cases, a target letter may be sent to compel the recipient to provide testimony or evidence before the grand jury. The individual is informed that they have the right to refuse to testify to avoid self-incrimination.
- Cooperation Offer: In certain situations, a target letter may be sent as part of a strategy to encourage the recipient to cooperate with the investigation. The letter may outline potential benefits, such as reduced charges or leniency, in exchange for the individual’s cooperation and assistance in the prosecution of other individuals or the provision of crucial information.
- Opportunity to Respond: A target letter may provide the recipient with an opportunity to respond to the allegations and present their side of the story. It allows the individual to provide any exculpatory evidence or arguments that may affect the course of the investigation.
It’s important to note that receiving a target letter does not establish guilt, but it indicates that the person is the focus of an ongoing federal investigation and that prosecutors believe that the perso committed one or more federal offenses. If someone receives a target letter, it is crucial for them to seek legal counsel immediately to understand their rights and to navigate the legal process effectively.
Do target letters detail the pending charges?
In general, target letters do not typically detail the specific pending charges against the recipient beyond providing a federal law or laws that prosecutors believe were potentially violated. Instead, they serve as formal notification that the individual is the target of a federal investigation. The purpose of a target letter is to inform the recipient of their status in the investigation and to provide them with an opportunity to respond or seek legal counsel.
While target letters may mention the general nature of the investigation or the potential criminal conduct being investigated, they typically do not provide an exhaustive list of pending charges. The specific charges and evidence gathered during the investigation are usually presented during the formal indictment process if the prosecution decides to proceed with charges.
It’s important to consult with legal counsel to understand the implications of receiving a target letter and to navigate the legal process appropriately. An attorney can provide guidance on how to respond to the target letter, protect your rights, and assist you in preparing for any potential charges that may arise from the investigation.