Tampa Pre-Arrest Advice & Representation Lawyer
Fight Federal Criminal Charges in Tampa Before They Are Filed
State and local police tend to make an arrest if they observe a crime in progress or if one is later reported to them by a crime victim or witnesses. Federal law enforcement agencies tend to operate on another level entirely. Federal officers use the vast resources at their disposal to conduct lengthy, monthslong or yearslong investigations, building up strong cases with mountains of evidence before they bring their case to the grand jury for an indictment.
The downside to this practice is that if you get arrested for a federal felony offense, there is a good chance the prosecution has already built a strong case against you, limiting your options. The upside is that there are steps you can take before an arrest is made to put yourself in a better position, should an arrest ever come. A skilled and experienced federal criminal defense attorney can intervene on your behalf with federal officers and advocate for your innocence before charges are ever filed. Your lawyer may be able to prevent an arrest altogether, negotiate the manner of an arrest, or influence what charges eventually get brought.
If federal agents have approached you, contacted or expressed a desire to speak with you, or if you have reasons to believe you might be under investigation by a federal law enforcement agency, call an experienced federal criminal defense attorney for advice before you do anything else. In Tampa, attorney Bryan Scriven and his team at Scriven Law, P.A., are prepared to advise you and represent in the pre-arrest or investigative phase of a federal criminal prosecution.
How Can an Attorney Help Before Federal Charges Are Even Filed?
You may discover you are under investigation by a federal agency such as the IRS, DEA, ATF or FBI, but you might not have any idea what the investigation is about. Do they want you as a witness, or are you a suspect or “person of interest” in a white-collar crime, drug crime or weapons offense? After visiting confidentially with a federal criminal defense attorney, your lawyer can do some investigation or intervene on your behalf with federal agents to learn more about what charges might be pending or why the agency is interested in you. Your attorney might be able to convince the prosecutors they don’t have a strong case against you and keep charges from ever getting filed. Alternatively, your lawyer’s work at this stage could at least influence what charges do get brought. Your lawyer can also help negotiate the manner of your arrest, such as when and where it takes place, whether it will be a public spectacle or private affair, or whether you should come in voluntarily and avoid arrest for the time being. Of course, your attorney is also your advisor, counselor and advocate who can appear with you and speak for you at any interviews, including both custodial and non-custodial interrogations.
Can Federal Agents Search My Car, House or Person Without a Warrant?
If federal officers have approached you on the street, pulled you over while in your car, or come to your home with a request to search, you need to know your rights. If the officers present you with a warrant, you should let them conduct their search and call your lawyer. If for some reason, their warrant was invalid or the agents overstepped their authority, your attorney will take up the issue with the U.S. Attorney or in court and make sure any evidence the officers took cannot be used against you.
If the agents don’t have a warrant but want to search anyway, the situation is a little more complicated. Not every search requires a warrant; there are exceptions that would enable them to search a car and even a home in some circumstances. It is crucial here to determine whether the agents are demanding to search or asking your permission. If they claim a right to search, you should not stand in their way, or you could face obstruction charges. If their search was improper, your attorney will deal with it. On the other hand, if the agents are asking for your permission to search, then you have the right to withhold your consent, and it is probably in your best interest to do so. You might think you have nothing to hide, and refusing consent will only make you look suspicious, but if federal agents are at your door, you are probably a suspect already. Consenting to a search only gives the government free rein to dig up any material they could possibly use against you. Why help the government build its case? If you are within your rights to refuse a search, it is generally wise to do so. When in doubt, call your lawyer.
What Should I Do if Federal Agents Wish to Interview Me?
If you are not in custody (and even if you are in custody), you are free to refuse to speak with federal agents. As with consenting to searches, voluntarily agreeing to talk to law enforcement is usually just an opportunity for the agents to record statements they can use against you in your prosecution or give them grounds for an arrest. If you do talk to federal officers, be very careful about what you say. A federal law (18 U.S.C. 1001), makes it a crime punishable by five years in federal prison to knowingly and willfully make a “materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation” on any matter within the jurisdiction of the federal government. Note that the statement does not have to be incriminating per se; the false statement itself is grounds for the government to charge you with violating this statute.
Of course, the aim of the government is not to prosecute you for making a false statement. However, once they have this charge to hang over your head, they now have a great deal of leverage to get you to cooperate with them further or plead guilty to avoid additional charges.
The better course when approached by federal agents is to take their card and let them know your lawyer will be in touch. If your attorney believes speaking with the agents is in your interests, he can arrange an interview with fair ground rules and be present during the questioning to protect your rights. Your lawyer might even negotiate a grant of immunity before providing information. Be aware that there are different types of immunity from prosecution (use immunity, derivative use immunity, transactional or blanket immunity), and you could still be prosecuted if you don’t get the right immunity agreement. Negotiating immunity is a legal matter for your attorney to handle on your behalf.
Call Scriven Law for Pre-Arrest Advice and Representation in Tampa
Being under investigation for a federal crime is not something to ignore, but neither is it something to panic over. Call an experienced federal criminal defense attorney who can make the most of this opportunity to position you for a favorable outcome before charges are ever filed. In Tampa, call Scriven Law, P.A., for advice and representation from a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney.