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Target Letters

What Is a Target Letter?

Simply put, a target letter is correspondence sent to an individual who is required to testify in front of a grand jury.

The individual may be required to provide background or commentary on the subject of an investigation. Although this sounds relatively unintimidating, a target letter may indicate that you are the subject of the investigation. If this is the case, you may be suspected of a serious crime.

Understanding the Role of Grand Juries

A grand jury is a body of people organized for the purpose of determining whether there are sufficient facts in a specific case to justify indictment (a written instrument presented to a court that charges a person with the commission of a crime). Generally speaking, a grand jury is comprised of 16 to 20 people. Grand juries are designed to keep prosecutors in check. Simply put, the grand jury keeps prosecutors from making wild accusations or dragging defendants into court without enough evidence to actually convict them. Today, many states use pre-trial hearings in the place of grand juries.

Typically, grand juries are used when cases involve serious crimes. Misdemeanors usually don't merit a grand jury. If the investigation involves a grievous federal crime, the Fifth Amendment states that a grand jury must be allowed to hear a case before prosecutors make an accusation. During the case, a target letter may be sent to the individual that prosecutors want to accuse.

About the Pre-Indictment Phase

The term "indictment" refers to the official criminal accusation. Pre-indictment refers to a period of time before the case is presented to grand jury. During this time, no one has been officially accused of a crime, but prosecutors and investigators are accumulating evidence to present in a grand jury hearing. You will be notified if prosecutors target you during their investigation.

First, you may discover that you are involved in an investigation through your family, friends and co-workers. During the pre-indictment phase, investigators may question your relatives and other people to whom you are associated. Additionally, you may receive a grand jury subpoena to produce specific documents in court or be visited by a federal agent. If a federal agent contacts you at your office or your home, he/she may ask to speak with you and advise that you are a target in an investigation.

Finally, you may receive a target letter. The letter will probably indicate that you must appear before a grand jury and that you are the target of a federal investigation.

What Should I Do if I Receive a Target Letter?

If you receive a federal target letter, contact a defense attorney as soon as possible. If you are under investigation, it is likely that you will be accused of a crime. Depending on the severity of the offense, you may be subject to severe fines and imprisonment. During the grand jury process, anything that you say before the jury may be used against you, but you are not required to answer any incriminating questions. You also have the right to confer with your lawyer before making statements.

At The Zendeh Del Law Firm, PLLC, we have the skill and experience to help you during the pre-indictment phase and while you answer questions before a grand jury. Receiving a target letter can be intimidating, confusing, and overwhelming – that's why our lawyers are committed to standing by your side through every step of the legal process. Contact us today to see what a top-notch legal representative can do for your case. With a Plano criminal defense attorney from The Zendeh Del Law Firm, PLLC on your side, you can rest assured that your case is in good hands.

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