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Signs You Are Under Federal Investigation

Federal Investigations: Why?

Federal investigations are the first step in the federal criminal justice process. Generally, they are launched by the filing of a credible crime report, data that has been gathered by a federal intelligence agency, information from defendants in pending criminal cases who are seeking leniency, or from a parallel civil investigation being conducted by a regulatory agency.

In any federal investigation, the federal law enforcement agents are trying to determine whether a federal crime has been committed, who are the responsible parties, and the evidence pertaining to the crime.

Federal Investigations: Who?

In a federal investigation, a majority of the work (interviewing witnesses, gathering evidence, etc.) is performed by federal law enforcement agents, such as FBI special agents. Yet, in some cases with a larger scale crime, it is not uncommon for multiple federal agencies to perform a joint investigation.

Throughout the entire investigation, federal agents will need to work closely with a federal prosecutor in order to secure legal documents, such as warrants and subpoenas. Further, based on the merit of the investigation, the federal prosecutor is the person who can bring formal criminal charges at the end of the investigation.

Federal Investigations: What?

The main goal of any federal investigation is to bring a federal indictment and secure a conviction. This means federal agents and prosecutors have a variety of techniques in their back pocket that they use throughout the investigation. This can include:

  • Phone tapping
  • Examining financial documents, such as bank records or tax returns
  • Conducting witness interviews and proffer sessions
  • Issuing grand jury subpoenas for testimony and documents
  • Analyzing the materials obtained from search warrants, such as computers and cellphones
  • Monitoring online activity
  • Recording monitored conversations with common consent
  • Physical surveillance over a period of weeks or even months
  • Off guard or deceptive interrogation/questioning

How Do I Know if I am Under Federal Investigation?

Generally, federal investigations take some time and are conducted in secret. This means it is not uncommon for a suspect to be shocked when agents are at their door to make an arrest. However, there are certain instances that can occur to clue in someone that they are under investigation. These can include:

  • You receive a target letter from a federal prosecutor formally notifying you that you are under investigation
  • Past colleagues or business associates inform you that they have been interviewed, searched, or subpoenaed to testify in connection with you and activities you have been involved in
  • A federal law enforcement agent contacts you and asks to meet
  • When you are at home, at work, or a location you frequent, and a federal agent shows up unannounced and tries to interrogate you
  • A federal agent executes a search warrant at your home or work
  • You receive a grand jury subpoena requiring you to testify or provide specific documents

What Do I Do if I am Under Federal Investigation?

Plain and simple, do not speak to anyone about the alleged crime and obtain legal representation as soon as possible. Speaking to anyone without first consulting with a defense attorney can result in the following:

  • Anyone you speak to about the crime or investigation will likely be interviewed by a federal agent. Here, the agents will most likely uncover what you have told them, or worse, the individual could be working with the federal agents as cooperators.
  • Even the most innocent statements can be twisted and turned by a skilled prosecutor. Therefore, you could be charged with obstruction of justice, which is a completely different charge, if whatever was said to the third party is interpreted as a cover up.

Find an Experienced Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you have become involved in a federal criminal investigation, it is in your best interest to seek legal representation immediately. At Premier Federal Criminal Defenders, we have years of experience in handling federal criminal cases. Our dedicated Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys will work to resolve these difficult situations quickly and discreetly without federal charges even being filed. Call today or email us at for a free consultation.


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