What To Do First If You Receive A Target Letter

You’re going about your day, checking the mail, when you see it – a letter from the U.S. Attorney‘s Office addressed directly to you. Your heart sinks as you open it and read the words “target of an investigation.”Wait, what did you say?You’ve just received a federal target letter. And it’s enough to make anyone‘s head spin.Sorry if that didn’t make sense. Let me break it down for you.There’s one reason you’re on this…

You’re going about your day, checking the mail, when you see it – a letter from the U.S. Attorney‘s Office addressed directly to you. Your heart sinks as you open it and read the words “target of an investigation.”Wait, what did you say?You’ve just received a federal target letter. And it’s enough to make anyone‘s head spin.Sorry if that didn’t make sense. Let me break it down for you.There’s one reason you’re on this website: you’re looking for an elite criminal defense law firm to guide you through this situation. Well, you’ve come to the right place.At Spodek Law Group, we’re focused on providing the highest level of service and getting results for clients facing serious federal charges. Our criminal defense lawyers have experience handling the toughest legal situations nationwide.So take a deep breath. You’re not alone in this. We’re here to walk you through exactly what a target letter means and the critical first steps you need to take.

What Is a Federal Target Letter?

In simple terms, a target letter is a notification from federal prosecutors that you are the target of a criminal investigation. It means the government believes they have substantial evidence linking you to a federal crime.The letter will likely state the general nature of the investigation and the agency involved, like the FBI, DEA, or IRS. It may also include a request for you to take certain actions, such as:

  • Testify before a grand jury
  • Meet with the prosecuting U.S. Attorney
  • Provide documents or evidence

Most importantly, the target letter signals that an indictment could be coming if the prosecutor can further build their case against you.Now you‘re probably thinking – this sounds pretty serious, right? You’re not wrong. Receiving a target letter is definitely a big deal that requires your immediate attention.But here’s the key thing to understand:A target letter is not formal criminal charges or a conviction. It’s simply a notification that you are squarely in the government’s investigative crosshairs.The good news? By taking swift and strategic action, it may be possible to resolve the case before charges are ever filed. And that’s exactly what an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer like myself can help you do.

Why Do Prosecutors Send Target Letters?

Federal prosecutors have a few different reasons for issuing target letters early in an investigation:

  1. To provide notice to individuals they plan to prosecute and an opportunity to respond.
  2. To apply pressure and incentivize cooperation by making targets realize the gravity of the situation.
  3. To start building a case by seeing how targets react and what information they may offer up.
  4. As a strategic move to have more options later on, like pursuing accomplices or co-conspirators.

So in many ways, a target letter represents both a legal formality and a tactical maneuver by the prosecution. They are obligated to notify you that you‘re a target, but they also hope you’ll take the bait and make statements or admissions that can be used against you.That’s why the first thing I tell anyone who receives a target letter is this:Do not say a single word to investigators until you have hired an experienced federal criminal defense attorney.I cannot stress this enough. As soon as that target letter arrives, it’s time to go into lockdown mode to protect yourself. Because anything you say can and will be used to try and build a case against you.

Your First Crucial Steps After Receiving a Target Letter

So what should you do after getting a target letter? Here are the critical first steps I advise all my clients to take immediately:

  1. Hire a Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer – This is 100% the most important thing you can do. An experienced legal advocate who specializes in federal criminal cases can make all the difference. They will handle all communication and negotiations with prosecutors from this point forward to protect your rights.
  2. Follow Your Lawyer’s Instructions to the Letter – Your attorney will likely instruct you to make no statements and no contact with investigators whatsoever until they have had a chance to fully review your situation. Listen to them. This temporary silence can be crucial.
  3. Begin Gathering Any Relevant Documents and Evidence – While awaiting your attorney’s guidance, start pulling together any documents, emails, records or other potential evidence that could be involved in the case. But do not alter or destroy any of it, as that could lead to additional obstruction charges.
  4. Be Prepared for Your Attorney to Initiate Contact with Prosecutors – One of the first things your lawyer will do is reach out to the prosecuting office to get more details on the nature and scope of the investigation against you. This “feeling out” process helps them formulate a defense strategy.
  5. Discuss How to Lawfully and Ethically Proceed – After your attorney has made contact with prosecutors, they will sit down with you to explain your legal rights, options and liability exposure. This could include possibilities like negotiating for pretrial diversion or seeking to avoid charges altogether.

The key thing to understand is that by hiring a federal defense lawyer as soon as you receive a target letter, you are taking control of a situation that could otherwise quickly spiral out of control.Your lawyer is now the buffer between you and federal investigators whose goal is to build a case against you. All communication goes through your legal representative from this point forward.And perhaps most importantly, your lawyer can get to work attacking the prosecution’s case from every angle to have it resolved or dismissed before charges are ever filed.Because trust me, you do not want to still be dealing with this if it reaches the indictment stage. At that point, your chances of a favorable resolution become much slimmer.

What Not to Do After Receiving a Target Letter

I’ve covered the crucial “dos” after getting a target letter. Now let me warn you about some of the biggest “don’ts” I always caution my clients against:

  • Do NOT speak to federal investigators or prosecutors without your lawyer present, no matter how small the discussion may seem. As I said, anything you say can potentially be used against you.
  • Do NOT destroy or conceal any documents, emails, mobile devices or other potential evidence. This can easily lead to additional obstruction charges on top of the original investigation.
  • Do NOT lie or mislead investigators if they do approach you before you’ve hired a lawyer. This can compound your legal troubles significantly.
  • Do NOT assume you can easily talk your way out of this situation on your own. Federal prosecutors are skilled and determined. You need an equally skilled defense attorney on your side.
  • Do NOT take a “wait and see” approach, hoping the investigation will just go away. It won’t. You need to take decisive action to defend yourself.

The bottom line is that from the moment you receive a target letter, you are in the federal government‘s crosshairs. Any missteps could seriously jeopardize your freedom and your future.So the prudent path is to go into complete lockdown mode – remain silent, remove yourself from the situation, and allow an experienced federal criminal lawyer to take the lead.

Why You Need a Powerhouse Federal Criminal Defense Firm

Look, I know this is probably an incredibly stressful and confusing situation for you right now. When that target letter shows up, it can really throw your life into a tailspin.But this is exactly why you need to align yourself with a powerhouse criminal defense firm like Spodek Law Group that specializes in federal cases.

We’ve been through this before countless times with clients nationwide.Our team of former federal prosecutors and elite litigators know all the tactics investigators will use. We‘ve seen every trick in their playbook.More importantly, we know how to fight back and counter those tactics to defend your rights, your reputation and your freedom.Most law firms implement a cookie cutter strategy in order to fight your case, and save their own time. They don‘t look carefully at your situation – they simply want to move on to the next case.

At Spodek Law Group, we leave no stone unturned. We do everything possible to win. Everything we do is focused on getting you results. We understand the difficult and challenges of going through a case.If you‘re accused of a crime, schedule a consultation with our criminal attorneys today. Our NYC criminal defense lawyers are focused on servicing a very curated clientele, that expects high class service and exceptional understanding of the law.Sometimes prosecutors will only be fair if you respond with force to them. Without an attorney advising you, you might accidentally plead guilty when you could‘ve won the case.

The only way to truly know is to hire a private criminal defense attorney.At Spodek Law Group – we pride ourselves on taking a hands-on approach. It means researching the exact situation surrounding your case, and putting in the leg work to be familiar with every single intimate detail.Our firm has excellent work ethics, and we constantly hold firm meetings in order to discuss and address all of our cases. In the event of an emergency – we have a full team of lawyers available to help you.Regardless of how tough your situation is – we are here to help you. Our criminal defense lawyers work hard to have a solution for you, irrespective of the situation you find yourself in.Many clients are often embarrassed by their situation, and don’t speak openly about their alleged issue. We encourage open dialogue, and recommend full transparency – so we can give you the best possible legal advice.It’s simple. Every single client deserves honesty and white glove service.

Every single client should know what he, or she, potentially faces and what the outcome of their criminal defense case could be – before hiring a criminal defense attorney.Our lawyers have experience handling criminal defense cases nationwide, ranging from Los Angeles to NYC. Our philosophy is fair and simple – every single law firm should adhere to it – but most don‘t.

Most criminal defense attorneys will take on any client possible who can pay — regardless of whether they can help the client. Not us. We only take on clients who we can truly help.We are selective about the number of clients we work with, and only work with clients who we can truly help. This is different from other law firms, who take on every single client – irrespective of the outcome.When you reach out to our law firm – the process begins with a risk free consultation in person, or over the phone. During this consultation – you can ask us anything – regardless of how long it takes.

We encourage you to take this opportunity to ask the tough questions – which allow us to show you our understanding of the law, and our case results.

We are available to help you 24/7.The Spodek Law Group handles cases nationwide. We have offices in NYC and Los Angeles. Regardless of how tough your situation is – we are here to help you.Our criminal defense lawyers work hard to have a solution for you, irrespective of the situation you find yourself in. Many clients are often embarrassed by their situation, and don’t speak openly about their alleged issue.We encourage open dialogue, and recommend full transparency – so we can give you the best possible legal advice.

Understanding the Federal Criminal Process

Part of what makes receiving a target letter so unnerving is that the federal criminal process is largely a mystery to those unfamiliar with it.As your legal team, it’s our job to guide you through each step and ensure your rights are protected at all times. So let me quickly demystify what could potentially lie ahead:If charges are filed after the investigation, the first step is an indictment by a federal grand jury. This is simply a determination of whether probable cause exists that you committed a federal crime.From there, an arraignment will be scheduled where you will enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.

This is a formality, as the vast majority of federal defendants plead not guilty initially while their lawyers negotiate.The discovery process then begins, with both the prosecution and defense exchanging evidence and other information relevant to the case. 

For most federal cases, there will also be a period of pre-trial motions and hearings where both sides argue over what evidence should/shouldn’t be allowed, what witnesses can testify, and other procedural matters.Depending on how negotiations unfold, your case could eventually go to trial in U.S. District Court if a plea deal cannot be reached. Federal criminal trials are conducted very differently than state trials.Or if a plea bargain is struck, you would proceed to a plea hearing where you enter a guilty plea in exchange for reduced charges or sentencing considerations.If convicted at trial, you would then proceed to sentencing where arguments are made for and against leniency based on federal guidelines.As you can see, it’s an incredibly complex process with many potential landmines along the way. Trying to navigate this alone is simply not advisable when your freedom and future are at stake.This is why you need a federal criminal defense lawyer who has been through this process many times before. We know all the potential pitfalls and leverage points to consistently deliver the best possible outcomes for our clients.

The Spodek Law Group Advantage

When you become a client of Spodek Law Group, you get the full power of our nationwide team of elite criminal litigators and former federal prosecutors behind you.Our founding partner Todd Spodek is a second-generation defense attorney and trial veteran who has handled hundreds of cases in his career. He has appeared as a legal expert on major news outlets like Fox News, Newsweek, New York Post and more.In 2022, Netflix even released a series about one of Todd’s high-profile cases involving Anna Delvey/Anna Sorokin.We have over 50 years of combined experience handling legal situations across the country and around the world. Our reputation for excellence precedes us in the legal community.But what truly sets us apart is our unwavering commitment to personal service and ethical representation.We treat each and every client like a member of our family. We make ourselves available 24/7 to address your questions and concerns. We explore every possible avenue to defend your rights and secure the best resolution.And we do it all with honesty, integrity and discretion. Because your privacy and our ethical duties to you as defense counsel are sacrosanct.When you hire Spodek Law Group, you get unmatched legal expertise, relentless advocacy, and a support system to help you get through this stressful and uncertain time in your life.We are your guardians and guides from that first target letter all the way through to the final resolution of your case, no matter how long it may take.

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