Each federal agency has a significant amount of resources and although it may not be clear whether you are a target initially, it does not mean that you cannot become one.
Federal government investigations sometimes begin years before you are contacted. Investigators sometimes already have information that may implicate you. Therefore, never think that because agencies ask for information that the agency does not already have the answer.
Always Be Truthful
Federal investigations require you to be truthful in your responses, subpoena responses and any level of questioning. Failure to provide truthful answers can start another can of problems called providing false statements which have statutory penalties. Read about Signs of Being Under Investigation (Federal).
Avoid Doing These Things
One of the things to avoid when responding to an investigation is to simply disregard subpoena requests for corporate, bank records, or emails. Oftentimes, the investigator or Assistant US Attorney will request copies of emails, contracts and subcontracts, phone records or bank records. You want to comply with these request even if you have to pay the bank extra to find older records.
With regards to responding with emails, chances are that they government already has emails from the other party. You still have an obligation to turn over emails from your computer.
- Simply stating that you do not have access to someone’s else’s emails will not suffice
- You are expected to contact banks if necessary or get old phone records to comply
When you are asked to respond to a subpoena or otherwise cooperate in a government investigation, be cognizant that the government does have a right to investigate. You cannot impede or obstruct that right by willfully delaying the process or claiming that you don’t have access. You are expected to go the extra mile and show a good faith effort to respond.
Realize That You Have Constitutional Rights
When the government decides to investigate you, the Constitution does have some limitations of government action, whether state of federal. During a federal investigation, although it is highly advised to cooperate with law enforcement agencies, you should also know your legal rights and how to protect them. This is but one of the reasons why you should have retained legal counsel or investigation attorney.
Sometimes individuals or companies seek to find a defense attorney when it is too late. What you may have already told the federal government is fair game and can be used against you in the future.
Suggestions of Things to Do
If you happen to learn that you or your company is involved in government investigations, and that you do not yet have a federal investigation attorney on board, there are a few suggestions and tips to keep in mind.
Tip 1. You want to keep conversations to a minimum with other people. This includes family members, friends and coworkers. Talking to other persons can also impute additional charges by the law enforcement personnel.
Tip 2. If you are a subpoena target of investigation on a federal government contract, you want to consider also doing an internal investigation to see if there are some mitigating circumstances to handle. Oftentimes, the issue at and maybe unknown to you. Government contract investigations are on the rise. Companies and small businesses are now being charged with procurement fraud under the SBA 8(a)BD program, HUBZone fraud and SDVOSB fraud.
Tip 3. If you are a federal contractor subjected to federal investigations, you should seriously consider retaining a government investigations attorney that understands either federal small business law and procurement regulations. Many small businesses make the mistake of hiring traditional commercial attorneys that do not understand the substantive areas of government contract law that the investigation is about. See also information about internal corporate investigations.
Tip 4. Do not delete files from computers or throw away important documents. This can do more harm than good. Federal investigators have many tools at their disposals including forensics that can assess hidden actions within your Consequences of Procurement Fraud Schemes & Avoiding Criminal Liability
Common Areas for Federal Investigation on Government Contractors
In the last ten years, the federal government has increased its scrutiny over small businesses that participate in the various SBA and VA programs. This includes the SBA’s HUBZone and 8(a) Business Development (BD) Program. In addition, there has been a drastic increase in government investigations into limitations on subcontracting regulations, and SDVOSB small business fraud. If you are a small business participating in these government contractor programs, be mindful of how you respond to federal government investigations. See information small business not meeting procurement requirements.
Hire an Experienced White Collar Criminal Defense Lawyers or Government Investigation Attorneys.
Sometimes, government contractors, individuals or corporations make the mistake of handling the initial phase of federal investigation without legal counsel or an investigative lawyer. This frequently turns out to be one of the most costly legal mistakes seen to date. See information about inverted domestic corporations.
When a government investigation is on the way, there could be civil penalties and criminal sanctions involved, including jail time. Read about Avoiding the Pathway on Government Contract Fraud Cases and Federal Procurement Fraud – Do You Have the Right Defense Lawyer?
Although defendants may think that they are innocent and have nothing to hide, the reality is that an experienced white collar criminal defense attorney will already know that federal statutes related to fraud against the government can easily indict or charge a defendant upfront. This puts a lot of stress on you although you may still believe that you are innocent.
Knowing how to respond to federal government investigations can valuable if correctly approached early in the process. Having an experienced defense attorney on board is essential. However, always realize that you have constitutional rights that limit the government’s actions.
For help in an upcoming government investigation or pending criminal cases, please call our Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers at 1-866-601-5518.