What is a Target Letter?

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What is a Target Letter?


Federal criminal cases don’t work the same way state criminal cases do. Target letters are a part of the federal criminal case process that is typically unfamiliar to most people.

A target letter comes from the federal prosecutor. It lets you know that you’re a suspect in a federal criminal investigation. If you’re receiving a letter, there’s a good chance the prosecutor already has substantial evidence that you may have committed a federal crime. 

Here’s what you need to know about this scary situation.

Get an Attorney and Watch Who You Talk To 

The moment you receive one of these letters, it’s time to call an attorney. Refrain from contacting a federal prosecutor or federal agent in response to one of these letters. Do not contact any friend, family member, or work colleague about the letter or your case. 

Your communications with your federal criminal defense attorney are privileged. When communications are privileged, they cannot be used against you in a criminal case. 

By contrast, anything you say to anyone else can be used against you. Federal prosecutors can subpoena these people and force them to testify against you. They’ll have to tell the truth about anything they’re asked about. If they do anything else, they’ll be guilty of perjury.

It’s natural to feel lonely and afraid. It’s natural to want to reach out to your loved ones. But it’s essential to keep your mouth shut about your case. 

The letter may ask you to testify before a grand jury. Make sure you consult an attorney before appearing before a grand jury. 

Be Honest With Your Attorney 

Answer any question your attorney has for you honestly and completely. Your attorney cannot help if you lie or conceal facts about the situation.

Your lawyer will typically reach out to federal prosecutors to gain more information about why you have been named as a target.

Your criminal defense attorney will then help craft a strategy for moving forward with your case. 

Avoid Touching the Evidence 

After receiving a target letter, many people panic and start destroying evidence. You must avoid touching any evidence at all.

Tampering with or destroying evidence is, in and of itself, a crime. Touching the evidence will make your situation worse, not better.

Take a deep breath and speak to your lawyer. There may be options available to keep you out of prison, but you could lose some of those options if you panic.

Get Help Today

Have you received a target letter from the federal government?

Our team has extensive experience helping defendants navigate federal criminal cases. 

Contact Greco Neyland to get help today.

See also:

What is a RICO Charge? 

How Does Bail Work in a Federal Criminal Case 

The Definitive Guide for Those Charged with Federal Crimes in NYC 


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