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Tampa Criminal Lawyer > Blog > Federal Criminal Defense > You Received a Target Letter in the Mail: Now What?

You Received a Target Letter in the Mail: Now What?


Target letters are written memos prepared by the United States Department of Justice in advance of a criminal grand jury or investigation. If you received a target letter, it means you are the subject of a criminal investigation, may be subpoenaed, or could be named as a defendant in a federal criminal indictment. You should not take it lightly, in fact it is critical you prepare a defense immediately. Attorney Bryant Scriven is a former prosecutor with years of experience in criminal cases. He now represents clients in criminal defense matters and can assist you in preparing a response to a target letter, deposition, or grand jury appearance.

U.S. Criminal Investigations

What is the difference between federal criminal investigations and state or local investigations? Why is it  important to act immediately when you receive a target letter? A target letter is the first step in a long series of events leading to a criminal indictment. It essentially means that the federal government considers you a person of interest in an active or developing investigation. You may never be named as a defendant, but you could be subpoenaed or monitored as the government prepares its case.

Target letters are a formal notice that you may be a potential “target” for criminal prosecution. Usually a letter is only sent to the recipient if the federal government has reason to believe there is substantial evidence linking the subject to a federal crime such as forgery, bribery, mail fraud or criminal violation of a federal statute. 

Target Letter Examples & Affiliated Federal Agencies

For example, insider trading is a criminal violation of the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), and a subject of interest would receive a target letter. Similarly, a physician identified as receiving kickbacks for referrals is violating the Anti-Kickback Statute and would most likely receive a target letter from the DOJ, CMS (Center for Medicare Services) or HHS (Health and Human Services). These examples are provided to illustrate all the federal administrative agencies that can be involved in a federal investigation, indictment, or simply the mailing of a target letter, depending on the nature of the alleged crime. They are not indicative of the potential target letter you may have received. Most often a target is the subject of an indictment at a later time, but only if the government prepares enough evidence against you to warrant one. A seasoned defense attorney can ensure that the process is not skewed in their favor, possibly preventing charges from being filed at all, but time is of the essence.

Reach Out to Us Today for Help

It is imperative that you act quickly and effectively if you have received a target letter in the mail. If you are the subject of a criminal investigation for a federal offense in the Tampa area,  you need a strong criminal defense and the assistance of experienced legal counsel. Call Tampa federal criminal defense attorney Bryant Scriven today to discuss your legal options and prepare a strong defense.

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