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Federal Criminal Investigation Process

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Federal crimes are serious business, which is why you should be extra cautious any time you are involved in a federal investigation. Whether you are simply a witness or actively investigated as the target of the federal criminal investigation process, you need to make sure that your best interests are protected at every stage of the process.

While federal agents may never intend to make innocent people the subject of a federal criminal investigation, it happens more often than you may think. Guilty or not, an Ohio federal criminal attorney is your best protection throughout every step of the federal criminal investigation process. Your federal crimes lawyer can protect your rights and make sure that your case has the best outcome possible, maybe even possibly avoiding an arrest altogether.

How a Federal Criminal Investigation Gets Started

While any suspicious behavior or single incident can trigger a federal criminal investigation, there are three main ways that a federal investigation gets started. Perhaps the most common way that you can get involved in a federal cases is by being named by an informant or another third party. Sometimes a person arrested for a federal crime or under investigation gives information to the police in exchange for leniency. They can name you as a party to the crime they are under investigation for or even sometimes give evidence of another crime entirely. Many times, informants collect further evidence by wearing a wire or making a controlled buy of contraband.

Not all third parties are informants, however. Anyone can provide information that sparks a federal investigation. A suspicious neighbor, an anonymous tipster, or even a victim can come forward with accusations or information.

Another common way that federal investigations get triggered is through irregularities in financial or reporting documents. This is especially common in white collar crime investigations. Whether you are involved directly in a suspicious financial transaction, such as through a wire transfer or bank deposit in your name, or you are only vaguely implicated, such as through your company’s inconsistent reports to a federal agency like the IRS or the SEC, you can end up as a target of a federal investigation.

Finally, federal stings and other wide-scope investigations are another common way that the federal investigation process is kicked off. These investigations can target a single area or a single crime and often involve multiple tactics, including undercover agents, interviews, and multiple arrests. These days, many federal criminal investigations use online investigations tactics, such as undercover presences in chatrooms and solicitation of illegal materials.

Collecting Evidence in Federal Investigations

Once an investigation has been started, federal agents must collect evidence. Often they can do so without your knowledge. Possible witnesses will be interviewed. Surveillance will be conducted. Documentation will be analyzed. Federal investigators will use any means possible to collect evidence they believe will prove you committed a crime.

Eventually, however, most people ultimately accused of federal crimes will be formally questioned by law enforcement. At this point in the federal investigation process, you may be tempted to tell your side of the story or explain away suspicious behavior. Don’t.

If you are called in by law enforcement to answer questions, you should decline to answer. You should never speak to federal agents without an attorney present. Even statements that you believe are totally innocent can be used against you. It’s always better to politely ask for your lawyer and decline to consent to any searches. It’s the best way to protect yourself from getting even deeper in trouble.

Federal Arrests

The federal criminal investigation process culminates with an arrest. Once you are arrested for a federal crime, you are already in a very serious situation. Federal investigators don’t just think that you committed a crime; they also believe that they have enough evidence to convict you.

Your federal criminal defense lawyer will look at all the evidence that federal agents have collected against you and develop a legal strategy to best fight the charges. Perhaps an illegal search was conducted, violating your civil rights, allowing evidence to be excluded. Maybe there is key information missing that they can turn over to law enforcement to show your innocence. Sometimes your attorney will even be able to negotiate a plea deal to keep you out of court. It just depends on the unique circumstances of your individual case. The important thing to remember, however, is that you should never speak with law enforcement without your lawyer present, especially if you’ve been arrested for a federal crime.

What Should I Do If I’m the Subject of a Federal Investigation?

No matter what stage of the investigation, if you are the subject of a federal criminal investigation, an experienced Ohio federal lawyer can help. Your attorney will be able to make sure that law enforcement respect your Constitutional rights and block illegal searches and seizures of possibly incriminating information. Just because you believe you have done nothing wrong doesn’t mean that you won’t be arrested for a federal crime—which is why having a dedicated federal lawyer on your side can be vital to your own protection.

If you are being investigated for a federal crime or have already been arrested, call the Ohio federal criminal attorneys at Luftman, Heck, and Associates today at (614) 500-3836. We will aggressively fight any federal charges against you and never give up until the case is resolved with the best possible outcome.

With over ten years of experience on similar cases, our lawyers are able to develop winning legal strategies and fight even the most damning evidence. Every person is entitled to the best defense possible. Let us provide you with yours.

Facing federal criminal charges? Contact us.

If you have been charged with a federal crime, you’re probably wondering what your options are. The Ohio federal criminal defense lawyers at Luftman, Heck & Associates have years of experience handling these types of cases and winning optimal outcomes for our clients. Call an Ohio federal criminal attorney today for a free consultation. To contact a criminal defense attorney, call us at (614) 500-3836 or email us via

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