Grand Jury Investigations
A federal grand jury investigation is responsible for the preliminary investigation of potential federal crimes. A federal grand jury has the power to subpoena witnesses and order the production of documents. These “pre-indictment” powers exist before charges are filed and before a trial begins. The federal grand jury has the power to issue subpoenas for evidence without probable cause.
A federal grand jury investigation does not have to specify the target of its investigation and has few limitations. This means that individuals who are not initially a target of a federal grand jury investigation can subsequently become targets or eventually be arrested and prosecuted.
If you or your company receives a federal grand jury subpoena, an attorney with experience in federal procedures should handle formulating an appropriate response. Because the grand jury proceedings are secret, experienced federal defense counsel is a powerful tool that you can use to communicate directly with federal investigators and prosecutors. An experienced federal defense lawyer will be able to determine whether you are a witness merely providing evidence against others or is you are actually a target of the investigation. Furthermore, being notified of a federal investigation requires companies and/or individuals to be extremely careful in how they handle any and all evidence in their possession. Destroying or altering records, even if you are making simple corrections, can result in obstruction of justice charges. If you or your company were not involved in any criminal activity but altered records after receiving a grand jury subpoena, you could be subjected to criminal charges. In some instances, the mere disclosure of a federal grand jury subpoena can result in criminal charges.
A federal criminal defense attorney can also protect your rights during a federal investigation. Constitutional protections can be valid reasons to decline to testify or provide evidence. Haas Law can engage in important investigative conversations with the prosecution team while you invoke your right constitutional right to remain silent. However, there are other grounds for objecting to grand jury subpoenas including a request that violates marital privilege or the attorney-client privilege. Having an attorney with experience handling federal grand jury investigations and the ability to work with federal prosecutors is critical. Oftentimes grand jury subpoena requests are broadly-worded for documents and records and an experienced federal defense attorney can coordinate a response with the federal prosecutor that is tailored, saving time and expenses.
Federal grand jury procedures are complicated and your attorney’s ability to effectively communicate with federal agents and federal prosecutors matters. During his decade-long career as a federal prosecutor, David Haas oversaw hundreds of grand jury investigations that issued thousands of federal grand jury subpoenas.
With this knowledge and depth of experience, call Haas Law if you have received a federal grand jury subpoena or if you believe you have become involved in any federal investigation.
What Is A Target Letter?
During a federal criminal investigation, a suspect may receive a letter informing them that they are the “target” of a federal investigation. These letters are often used in white-collar investigations, but can be used in any federal investigation, including drug investigations. These letters should not be ignored because the government is not going to “forget” about you.
In summary, a “target letter” notifies you that the government believes you have participated in, or have knowledge of, criminal activity. The letter, which is not required, serves as formal notice that you will be called to testify before a federal grand jury or that you are about to be charged with a federal offense. If you receive a target letter, it is likely that you have already, or will in the near future, receive a subpoena to testify before a federal grand jury.
The U.S. Department of Justice has provided a sample target letter on its website. https://www.justice.gov/usam/criminal-resource-manual-160-sample-target-letter
What Information Is Contained In A Target Letter?
A target letter generally describes the alleged crimes being investigated by the Department of Justice and the grand jury. Often, just federal statutes are cited in the letter and interpreting them by yourself is not a good idea. The letter usually has the name of a federal agent or federal prosecutor who you can contact. However, do not contact them without hiring an attorney. A target letter frequently contains a deadline to contact the government. That deadline should be adhered to and retaining an attorney should happen quickly because missing that deadline can have severe consequences.
What Do I Do if I Receive a Target Letter?
If you received a target letter, immediately call a federal defense lawyer. While you are not legally required to obtain an attorney if you received a target letter, it is generally in your best interest to do so. If you are an employee of a business that is also being investigated, you should consider retaining your own defense lawyer. A business is ensuring its best interests are protected by hiring its own attorney, so should you. Relying on an attorney representing the business to advocate on your behalf is problematic because the interests of the business may not be in your best interest.
Not all criminal defense attorneys understand the implications or consequences of a target letter. If you call a criminal defense attorney, you should ask them the scope of their experience in handling federal criminal cases. This is because receiving a target letter requires a number of decisions to be made – and made quickly. Often, someone who receives a target letter is a low risk of fleeing and is someone that the government believes can benefit from cooperating with federal agents. A delay can foreclose an opportunity to timely cooperate. After you receive a target letter, your case can travel down either of two roads. The first road is no contact with the officer, wait for the grand jury indictment, and then fight the case. The other road is to choose to timely cooperate, show up for an interview or “proffer”, and help in their investigation. It is during the proffer with the federal case agent and an Assistant United States Attorney that you, with counsel, seek to accept responsibility, mitigate to reduce the types of charges to be filed, and reduce any potential offense level scoring detailed in the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
If and when a target either sits for a grand jury or meets with federal agents or chooses to go to trial, Haas Law has the experience of handling federal criminal cases and can advise clients about every stage of the federal criminal process. Who is better prepared to shepherd you for the road ahead than someone who has both prosecuted and defended federal cases?
Federal criminal cases are extremely consequential. The sheer power of the federal government and their ability to investigate and prosecute is substantial. “The feds” bring nearly limitless resources and legal talent in a case against you, so consulting with a lawyer who is experienced and has a successful track record defending clients against federal charges is crucial to a favorable resolution of your case.
At Haas Law, we primarily practice in federal courts throughout the United States. Countering the aggressive tactics of and legal skill set of federal prosecutors and federal agencies (including the FBI, IRS, FDA, USPS, DEA, ATF, HSI, Secret Service, U.S. Marshals and others) requires experience, knowledge, and tenacity.
At Haas Law, we can guide you through every stage of the federal criminal justice system. You have rights, and you deserve to have them vigorously protected. Effective communication with federal agents and federal prosecutors is critical. Hiring an attorney who “speaks the same language” is an important factor to consider when hiring an attorney.
What Crimes Are Federal Crimes?
The types of crimes prosecuted in federal court can be similar to those prosecuted in state court. However, federal crimes are usually investigated by skilled agents working side-by-side with diligent prosecutors. The prosecution team could have been investigating you for months without you even knowing it. The penalties for federal crimes, if convicted, can be extremely severe.
State court and federal court are two entirely different legal systems — governed by different rules and judges. Federal judges, appointed for life by the President, preside over federal criminal cases, while elected state court judges preside over state criminal cases.
If you or someone you care about is under federal investigation, or that have been charged with a federal crime, hiring an attorney with federal experience is essential. Federal agents and federal prosecutors are familiar with federal procedures. That is an intimidating concept unless you have an attorney who is not intimidated by federal procedures. Hiring a defense attorney with little or no federal experience can have unintended consequences simply because they are unfamiliar with the federal system, and in some instances, charges can be avoided altogether.
Haas Law can intervene on your behalf today. We can negotiate for custody release and reduced charges, and we can even try to prevent an arrest in the most dire of situations.
Federal Criminal Cases That We Handle
At Haas Law, we are not afraid to take the most challenging cases, including: