For most people that have been charged with a crime, there was often little to no warning that an arrest was on its way. For state charges, an arrest often occurs when police witness a crime or within hours of identifying a suspect through an investigation. For some federal crimes, this process is often stretched out over weeks or months. The reality is that if you are just now learning that a federal law enforcement agency is wanting to speak with you, you have been the focus of an investigation for some time.
The process of investigating many federal crimes can take a substantial amount of time. This circumstance is often made more complex when federal authorities make it clear a defendant is under investigation. This adds an unusual layer for the person under investigation given they are not yet charged with a crime.
It is worth noting that you do not have to wait until you are arrested for a federal crime to hire an attorney. In fact, your legal counsel often can do the most good by advising you in the early stages of an investigation. If you believe you are the target of a federal investigation, contact attorney Doug Murphy as soon as possible. At your consultation, attorney Murphy can explain the benefits of working with a skilled federal defense attorney.
Providing Guidance During the Investigation in Houston TX
One of the most valuable ways an attorney can assist you is guiding you through the investigation process. Most people have never been under investigation by the federal authorities. If that is true for you, an attorney can give you helpful insight into what to expect and how to behave.
In many cases, it is not obvious if you are under federal investigation. In other cases, federal agencies or law enforcement will make it clear by asking for your assistance or seeking documentation from you. That does not always happen depending on the charge. For example, it is fairly uncommon for law enforcement to tip their hands regarding federal drug charges. For other charges, like white-collar crime, federal regulators routinely involve a person in the investigation.
An attorney could advise you on whether or not you are facing a criminal investigation. While it is impossible to know for sure in some cases, your legal counsel could provide you with helpful insight on when to expect charges to be filed.
Your attorney can also advise you on how to react to a potential investigation. You likely have a lot of questions about things to avoid during an investigation. Should you speak with the FBI? Should you delete your social media? What about shredding your documents?
One important step your attorney should advise you on is to avoid destroying any evidence. Even if documentation could be problematic for your case, facing an additional charge related to the destruction of evidence will only complicate things.
Explaining your Legal Rights
An attorney will advise you of your legal rights during the course of an investigation. While many people are aware that they do not have to answer questions from the police after they have been arrested, it is important to know that these rights extend to investigations prior to an arrest. Your attorney may advise you to never speak to anyone directly about your case.
You also have rights against unlawful searches or seizures. In many cases, federal investigators might want access to documents or other evidence found in your home or vehicle. If they obtain a search warrant from a judge, there is little you can do to stop it. If the Federal Bureau of Investigation shows up without a warrant, however, you are under no obligation to allow them to search your home or vehicle.
If federal investigators show up with a warrant, it is important that you comply. Any attempt to interfere with the execution of the warrant can result in additional charges against you. If federal law enforcement officers attempt to execute a warrant on your car, home, or business, contact your attorney right away.
Your attorney can also advise you on what to do if law enforcement brings you in for questioning. Typically, the agents investigating you will be vague regarding your legal status. While they might imply you are obligated to discuss your case and answer their questions, you are free to leave at any time.
If you are stopped by law enforcement or detained by federal investigators, your attorney could advise you on how to deal with the situation. Without discussing any aspect of your case, you can ask the investigators if you are being detained or arrested. If they inform you that you have not been detained, you can leave whenever you like. If the investigators detain you, then you are not free to leave. That said, you are not obligated to discuss your case with them.
Your attorney could prepare you for dealing with any circumstance involving interactions with law enforcement.
Serving as your Advocate
You have the right to remain silent when it comes to answering questions from law enforcement. In some cases, it is in your best interest to learn what officers know or discover what they might want with you.
The risk of speaking directly with the FBI or another federal agency is significant. Not only do you risk saying something incriminating, but you could also face consequences for any misstatements you make. It is a crime to lie to federal investigators, and these charges could quickly be added to the underlying case you already face. It is possible to face criminal charges for lying to law enforcement even if you are not under oath or testifying at trial.
Your attorney can serve as your central point of communication throughout the course of your criminal investigation. Discussing your circumstances is risky in general. In addition to anything you might say to federal investigators, the details you share with people in your personal life could also ultimately testify against you. By limiting any discussion of your case to your attorney, you can protect yourself during a federal investigation.
In many federal cases, the investigators have their minds made up on whether they plan to bring charges or not. That is not always the case, however. Investigations that stem from federal agencies routinely come to an end without the filing of criminal charges.
In some cases, your attorney may determine it is in your best interest to try and resolve the investigation against you. It is possible that by providing certain evidence, your attorney could demonstrate to investigators that you have not committed a crime. In this way, your attorney could help you avoid facing criminal charges entirely.
There are risks that come with working with the authorities, and doing so will never guarantee a positive outcome in your case. Because of what is at stake, you will benefit from seeking legal counsel with extensive experience handling federal cases.
Defending you in Court
In some cases, investigators will independently reach the conclusion that a prosecution is not warranted. In others, the information provided by your attorney could sway the investigators to believe you are innocent of any wrongdoing. In many cases, these investigations will ultimately lead to your arrest. When that happens, it is the role of your defense attorney to defend your rights in court.
Mounting a successful trial defense starts long before the jury in your case takes their seat. Investigating the facts of your case typically happens shortly after you hire your attorney. It is important that your lawyer begins to investigate quickly, as evidence can become difficult to track down as time passes.
Investigating your case can be an extensive, time-consuming matter. Your attorney could comb through documents or track down witnesses depending on the nature of the charges against you.
Ultimately, the work of your attorney could culminate at your trial. While the thought of going through a federal trial might seem hopeless, many of the charges on the federal level are defensible. With the right approach, your attorney can help you earn an acquittal.
There's also the jury to consider. A good federal crimes defense attorney will know how to connect with the jurors. Challenging the charges against you is only part of the task during a trial, but making you human and relatable is another part that can lead to successful ends in federal criminal cases.
Contact a Houston Federal Criminal Defense Attorney in Houston TX
When you believe you are under federal investigation, your choice of an attorney can have an enormous impact on your life. Your attorney is your advocate and advisor. He can guide you through the process from beginning to end, and their skill and experience could have a dramatic impact on your case. Given the potential penalties that come with federal charges, your choice of an attorney could have more influence on your case than any other single decision you make.
If you are facing federal charges in Houston, attorney Doug Murphy is ready to discuss your options. Doug Murphy has developed a reputation as an aggressive litigator with extensive experience in federal court. He understands how federal investigations work and how to push back against them when needed. Doug Murphy has a long history of success at the trial level and will never back down when facing off against the federal government. To learn more about how a skilled defense attorney will help you, schedule a free consultation with the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. right away.