If you are contacted by a federal agent, then follow these four tips to avoid making the situation worse.
If a federal agent, like an FBI agent, visits your home or work, or calls you, then it is most likely a surprise. It is natural to react defensively to a surprise visit by federal law enforcement. However, it is critical that you remain calm and polite. Remember that you do not know what they know or what they want from you. If they know little about you or want little from you, then acting defensively will only raise their suspicions of you. However, if you react calmly and politely, then it will be very difficult for federal agents to make negative assumptions about your cooperative attitude.
Shut up and listen
You have no legal obligation to talk to any law enforcement officer. Ever. This does not mean that it will always benefit you to stay silent throughout an investigation, but it does mean that you need to weigh the risks and benefits before talking to law enforcement. An attorney will be able to carefully analyze the situation to decide whether you should consider cooperating in a federal investigation. An attorney will also be able to negotiate with federal agents and federal prosecutors to protect your information. Without an attorney advocating for your best interests, you risk giving the federal government more information to use against you. In some cases, federal investigations last for several years. Federal agents and prosecutors work their investigation with the goal of bringing a federal indictment and securing a conviction against defendants. They are trained to accomplish this task. They have an advantage over an ordinary citizen because of their training, resources, and expertise in obtaining information. It is important that you level the playing field by hiring a lawyer familiar with the federal investigative process to guide you through the investigatory phase of federal prosecutions.
Get their contact info
Usually, federal agents will leave their contact information with you if they want to talk to you. If they do not leave their information, then ask for it. It is important that you obtain their contact information so that your attorney knows which agent to call. If your attorney has to figure out which federal agency is investigating you, which agent within the agency is assigned to the case, and what type of investigation they are leading, then it will delay the process. In some circumstances, a delay may affect the benefit of your information.
As soon as the agent leaves or hangs up the phone, begin looking for a lawyer. In federal investigations, you want a lawyer who has experience in federal investigations and prosecutions. Once you find a lawyer who is a good fit for your case, then secure their representation immediately. Often, the decision of whether or not you should talk to federal agents during an investigation is a time-sensitive matter, so you will need to make the decision with your lawyer quickly.
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