Tuesday, January 17, 2017


It's not an unusual question for a federal criminal defense lawyer to receive from those under suspicion of doing a federal crime in the Middle District of Florida: What should I do if a grand jury is looking into my conduct, the conduct of my business enterprise or the conduct of others I've been close to or done business with? 

It may have started with a visit from federal agents such splendid agencies as the FBI or the DEA or the ATF. Or it could originate with what is known as a target letter that as the name implies strongly suggests that you retain immediate legal help because you're likely to soon face an indictment from a grand jury. If you're the target of a federal investigation you need to understand the best ways to avoid arrest and prosecution.

Here is a sample of a target letter given by the Justice Department for use by Assistant United States Attorneys in federal criminal prosecutions:

This letter is supplied to a witness scheduled to appear before the federal Grand Jury in order to provide helpful background information about the Grand Jury. The Grand Jury consists of from sixteen to twenty-three persons from the Middle District of Florida. It is their responsibility to inquire into federal crimes which may have been committed in this District.
As a Grand Jury witness you will be asked to testify and answer questions, and to produce records and documents. Only the members of the Grand Jury, attorneys for the United States and a stenographer are permitted in the Grand Jury room while you testify.
We advise you that the Grand Jury is conducting an investigation of possible violations of federal criminal laws involving, but not necessarily limited to conspiracy to traffic in cocaine and marijuana, as well as mail fraud, scheme to defraud and federal firearm violation. You are advised that the destruction or alteration of any document required to be produced before the grand jury constitutes serious violation of federal law, including but not limited to Obstruction of Justice.
You are advised that you are a target of the Grand Jury's investigation. You may refuse to answer any question if a truthful answer to the question would tend to incriminate you. Anything that you do or say may be used against you in a subsequent legal proceeding. If you have retained counsel, who represents you personally, the Grand Jury will permit you a reasonable opportunity to step outside the Grand Jury room and confer with counsel if you desire.
Your favorite Prosecuting Attorney
The letter starts out cordially enough, I guess, but it's not exactly an invitation to a birthday party but more like a request to attend a wake as the last paragraph is heart stopping. In fact just reading it makes me want to go confess something to a grand jury right now in hopes of evading an indictment os something far worse. Oh hell, I'll finish this first then confess. The letter of course is not only a warning of that gift that never stops giving, a future indictment, but also in paragraph three clearly warns the receiver that destroying evidence is a federal crime. 

Ultimately if you have knowledge that a Florida grand jury in the Middle District of Florida is looking into your past you need to protect your future by contacting a federal criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to get the best possible results.

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