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What Not to Do When You’re Under Federal Investigation

Whether you found out through formal channels or you heard through the grapevine, you know that you’re under federal investigation for alleged criminal activity. Even if you’re entirely innocent, the situation isn’t just serious — it’s terrifying.

Fear can make people do foolish things, however, and you can’t afford any mistakes right now that could hurt your future case if you do end up facing federal charges. With that in mind, here are 4 things you should not do right now:

Don’t talk to anybody about your investigation

It’s human nature to reach out to other people when you’re scared or worried, but the only person you should speak with about the situation is your attorney.

Talking to your best friends, your business partner or your family can worsen your position because all of those people can be interviewed or subpoenaed. What they don’t know, they cannot repeat.

Don’t post on social media about the situation

Don’t get specific and don’t “vaguebook” (make vague-seeming statements without clarification on social media), either. Investigators and prosecutors today are very internet savvy and they will, most likely, obtain access to your posts.

Anything you say — or even hint about — can come back to haunt you in court if you’re asked to explain a social media post.

Don’t destroy your documents or electronics

Intuitively, it seems like shredding files, deleting emails and wiping a hard drive or two is a good idea, but that can be construed as obstruction of justice.

Even if you’re not guilty of anything else, that can land you in serious trouble with the federal authorities. People can (and have) gone to jail for nothing more than that.

Don’t talk with investigators without a lawyer

The federal obstruction statute is very broadly written, so anything that even hints at a lie to the authorities can land you in court. The only thing you should say to investigators is “May I have your card? I decline to speak with you until my attorney is present.”

Don’t let anybody take away your freedom without a fight. If you’re under a federal microscope, it’s time to find out more about your rights.

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