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Tampa Criminal Lawyer > Blog > Criminal > What Does It Mean If You Get A Federal Target Letter?

What Does It Mean If You Get A Federal Target Letter?


When a piece of official correspondence arrives in the mail unexpectedly, it is usually not a pleasant surprise.  For every pandemic stimulus check, there are piles of red light camera tickets, property tax bills, and notices from the IRS saying that you owe more taxes than what you already paid.  The most worrisome notices of all you can receive are the ones that order you to appear in court.  A federal target letter sounds absolutely terrifying, because it includes the word “target” and it involves a federal criminal case.  It does not mean that you are being charged with a crime.  As with so many other legal matters, federal target letters entail rights and obligations.  Even though no one who has just received a federal target letter is currently facing criminal charges in connection to the case related to the letter, these letters inform recipients of their right to hire a Tampa federal criminal process lawyer, and recipients would be wise to exercise this right.

It Does Mean That a Criminal Investigation Involves You

A federal target letter is an official notification of your rights when participating in a criminal investigation.  One of these rights is the right not to incriminate yourself.  If the court wants to find out information from you, it means that prosecutors believe that you are close enough to a crime to know things about it that prosecutors do not already know.  You may not know whether the prosecution considers you a witness or an accomplice, and maybe prosecutors will not know, either, until they hear your testimony.

It Does Not Mean That You Are Guilty

When you receive a federal target letter, you have not been convicted of the crime to which the letter pertains.  You have not even been charged with this crime.  Since this is a criminal investigation, though, anything you say can be used against you.  The Fifth Amendment protects the recipients of federal target letters from being coerced into making self-incriminating statements, since this applies to everyone, regardless of whether they are currently facing criminal charges.

In many cases, the criminal investigation is in an early enough stage that no one has been charged.  The court may simply want you to testify before a grand jury, which will then vote on whether to charge the defendant with a crime.

It Does Mean That You Can and Should Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer

Anyone who is under investigation has the right to hire a criminal defense lawyer.  The law considers the risk of self-incrimination so great in the case of federal target letters that the court will appoint public defenders to represent federal target letter recipients who cannot afford their own lawyers.

Contact Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney Bryant Scriven

A criminal defense lawyer can help you if you have received a federal target letter in connection with a federal criminal investigation.  Contact Scriven Law in Tampa, Florida to schedule a consultation.



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