FBI investigations that target individuals can be very unnerving. The FBI has jurisdiction to over violations in over 200 categories in federal law. The FBI investigations are usually started to protect the United States, internationally, from terrorist attacks, from foreign intelligence operations and espionage, from cyber-attacks and high technology crimes. Criminally, they must fight public corruption at every level, protect civil rights, fight transnational/national criminal organizations and enterprises, fight major while collar crime, and fight significant violent crime. Therefore, if they believe that something that a person or people residing in the United States are guilty of being involved with any of the above listed items, they may launch an investigation into the matter.
Though the FBI may ask you questions, you do not have to answer. It would be best to have a lawyer present before ever speaking to the FBI. Anything you say in an interview may be used against you in a court of law. The agents who you will interact with are well trained, they may try to persuade you to talk to them—the best thing to do is to retain a lawyer immediately and ask that the FBI direct any contact to you through the criminal lawyer you have retained.
FBI investigations usually always involve search warrants. Agents who give you a search warrant are the only ones who you are required to let in and you must allow them to search the premises outlined in the search warrant. Again, it is best to have a lawyer before such an incident occurs so that you have someone who knows the law and understands what the FBI may be looking for and can ask them for more information. However, if you have not retained a lawyer and are taken by surprise if the FBI arrive at your front door with a warrant, you must let them in. You do not have to tell them anything more than your name and your address. If they do try to question you while they are executing the search warrant, you should try your best not to make any statements—at least until you have had a chance to either talk to your previously retained attorney or until you have a chance to retain one.
If this situation occurs, it is best to let the FBI agents know that you would like to consult with a lawyer. You should state in no uncertain terms that you would only like to speak to the FBI agents in the presence of an attorney—even if this has no immediate effect, it will stop them from asking more questions. After the agents have left, sit down and write a short note reminding yourself the questions they asked you, what area they searched, the particular terms of the search warrant if you can remember them and the basic information including the time, date, location, and the agents names.
An attorney can ensure that the FBI agents are doing only what they have been authorized to do and that they are not taking undue advantage of you simply because you do not know all of your rights. If you are subpoenaed, your attorney can challenge it in court, to raise political issues, and to negotiate for more time. Essentially, your attorney is your first line of defense against the government—they’re also your strongest line of defense because they are trained to understand the law and to fight for you.
If you or a loved one has been or anticipates being investigated by the FBI, you need an aggressive Orange County criminal defense lawyer on your side. With offices in Costa Mesa, we serve people throughout Southern California, including in Huntington Beach, Irvine, Santa Ana, Costa Mesa, and Los Angeles. Call (949) 536-7762 or contact us online for a free initial consultation.