One thing that’s different about being investigated by the federal government is that you generally know you’re being investigated. You may know what specific crime the feds think you committed and you may not, but you usually get a letter letting you know that they’re taking a look at you and your activities.
Even if you don’t get a letter you may well know you’re being investigated. Federal agents may show up at your door or call you up to request a meeting. This would also be the stage where the federal government starts issuing search warrants.
Some unfortunate souls find out when they learn their coworkers and associates have been interviewed by federal agents. There’s no guarantee you’ll get a target letter before this happens.
What you don’t get is a letter saying that they’ve decided to stop investigating you. The Federal Government likes to keep its options open.
Fortunately, for anything other than a capital offense the feds only have 5 years. Most white collar crimes are not federal offenses. You have to be careful, though: some offenses are ongoing, which means the clock might not stop when you think it does. You should have a federal criminal attorney to help you out from the moment you know you’re being investigated so you can be advised on when you can start to breathe again
This stage is known as the pre-trial stage. If you are arrested during this stage a Grand Jury will be convened. If you are indicted you will then be arraigned, that is, brought before a judge and told what the charges are. The arraignment is where you enter your plea.
Keep in mind that even if the federal government decides not to charge you with something the State of New York may still have that option. Many federal crimes are also state crimes, and the statute of limitations on state crimes can be a lot longer. The feds may decide to just turn over all the evidence they’ve collected and let the state handle it if they determine they can’t get to you in time.
Thus, before making any decisions on how to handle a federal investigation it’s a very good idea to have an attorney by your side who understands how to defend against both federal and state charges. This can make a huge difference to your future, as sometimes cooperating can be strategic. Sometimes an attorney can also get the charges dropped long before the government or the state decides to convene a Grand Jury.
Think you may be in trouble? Get help today.