Theodore P. Watson, Esq. If you are a federal government contractor or individual facing potential federal criminal charges in a case involving federal contracts, you may have already received a federal target letter from the DOJ’s office, OIG, or some other federal law enforcement offices.
This is to be taken seriously, and you should not waste time hiring a criminal defense attorney who has experience in federal procurement law. In other situations, you may receive a notice of indictment. What is the difference between an OIG or DOJ target letter vs an indictment letter? The general answer is that one is more of a formal notice of charges against you.
What is a Target Letter?
A federal target letter issued to a government employee, contractor or some other defendant in a government procurement fraud investigation is more the method where the federal government informs you that the government believes that you have committed a crime. Some people may receive a letter in the mail or arrive at your office or home after federal investigators have tried to contact you.
Simply because federal contractors receive a target letter does not mean that you are charged or guilty of a crime. In some situations, the government may drop its focus on you or your company. When you receive a target letter, it can be a strong sign that criminal charges may be coming in the near future. The letter makes potential defendants aware of likely criminal charges in the future.
What is a target letter from the feds? – does it mean that you are guilty of a crime? Federal prosecutors use target letters in white collar crime cases involving government contracts. It usually means that you are under federal investigation. federal target letters do not give you details about how the investigation started if there was a whistleblower involved. See information about how to deal with federal investigations.
What is a Target Letter from the DOJ?
Target Letters from the Department of Justice (DOJ) is a notification sent by federal DOJ prosecutors to a government contractor or CEO likely to be charged with a federal crime. The letter will likely inform you that you are under federal investigation and may soon be indicted or face criminal charges. The letter offers you the opportunity to cooperate in the criminal investigation by providing evidence or testimony substantial evidence linking someone else to the crime.
How does the DOJ define a Target of Investigation?
The Department of Justice’s manual defines a target of investigation as “a person is a target where the prosecutor or Grand Jury has substantial evidence linking him to the commission of a crime.” See information about Signs of being under federal investigation.
Does the Government have to Provide You with a Federal Target Letter?
Although it is a courtesy and usually done in most cases involving federal contractors, the government does not always have to provide you with a federal target letter. If you have a government contractor fraud defense attorney already on your team, there may be a possibility that he or she can solicit the information from the AUSA (US Attorneys). Many federal prosecutors do not want to scare the defendant away or ‘tip their hand.’ However, in most white-collar crimes involving federal government contractors, a target letter is issued and a CID is issued. See information about three defenses for criminal liability for government contractors.
What Should You Do After You Receive a Target Letter?
What happens after a federal target letter? Immediately after receiving target letters, you should immediately hire a federal criminal defense attorney. You want to retain defense counsel with experience in federal government contracts and the issues presented in the allegations against you. See also information about proffers.
Once you have an idea of why you are targeted, you can start mounting your legal defense sooner. Note that by the time that you receive an OIG or DOJ target letter, the government has already been investigating the case for quite a while.
Does Indictment Mean Jail Time?
Many government contractors ask the question, does indictment mean jail time. The answer is not necessarily. An indictment is a formal accusation by federal attorneys on formally charging you with committing an offense by a grand jury. Formally charging government contractors does not automatically mean jail time.
Must the Government notify Contractors When They are No Longer a Target?
As a government contractor, the government is generally not obligated to notify you when you are no longer a target of an investigation. The notification practices in such situations can vary depending on the specific circumstances, laws, and regulations applicable to the investigation.
If you are involved in a government contract and become the subject of a federal investigation, it is crucial to consult with legal counsel experienced in government contracting and relevant laws. They can provide guidance based on the specific details of your situation and help you navigate any legal issues that may arise.
It’s important to note that laws and regulations related to government contracting, federal investigations, and notifications can vary, so it is always advisable to seek legal advice from qualified professionals to ensure you understand your rights and obligations in your specific circumstances.
If you receive a target letter from federal law enforcement, does that mean that you will be indicted?
Can Charges be Dropped After Indictment?
It is possible in limited situations that government contractors or criminal defendants in procurement fraud can get charges dropped after an indictment. The prosecutor would have to find insufficient evidence to support a conviction if the case went to trial. How does this happen? Hiring an experienced government contract fraud defense attorney who understands the procurement landscape and the rules could be one way of convincing the prosecutor to drop the charges after an indictment has been issued.
If a Government Contractor CEO is Indicted Can the Company Continue to Operate?
If the CEO of a government contractor is indicted by a grand jury, the company can generally continue to operate depending on the specific circumstances and the nature of the charges. An indictment letter is a formal accusation that does not necessarily imply guilt or conviction. Therefore, the company is not automatically shut down or forced to cease operations when indicted by a grand jury.
However, there can be significant implications for the company, especially if the charges directly impact its operations, contracts, or reputation. Here are a few potential scenarios:
1. Temporary suspension of contracts: If the indicted CEO had a direct involvement in the company’s contracts with the government, there may be a temporary suspension or termination of those contracts until the legal proceedings are resolved. The government agency involved may choose to reassess the company’s eligibility to continue doing business with them.
2. Leadership changes: Depending on the severity of the charges and their impact on the company’s image, there might be pressure from stakeholders, including shareholders, board members, or government agencies, to remove the CEO from their position. In such cases, the company may need to appoint an interim CEO or initiate a search for a permanent replacement.
3. Legal and financial consequences: The indictment can lead to legal battles and financial repercussions for the company, such as fines, penalties, or settlements. These outcomes could impact the company’s financial stability and ability to operate effectively.
4. Reputational damage: The indictment of a CEO by a grand jury can tarnish the company’s reputation, leading to a loss of trust from clients, partners, and the public. This could result in a decline in business opportunities and potential contracts.
Ultimately, the ability of a government contractor to continue operating after the indictment of its CEO depends on various factors, including the severity of the charges, the company’s contractual obligations, its ability to maintain credibility, and its capacity to navigate legal and financial challenges.
Are You a Target of Investigation? Why do Federal Prosecutors Send Target Letters?
1. Provide notice: A target letter serves as a formal notice to the individual that they are the focus of the investigation. It informs them that they may face criminal charges and alerts them to the seriousness of the situation.
2. Encourage cooperation: Sending a target letter can be a strategic move by prosecutors to encourage the individual to cooperate with the investigation. By being transparent about their status as a target, federal prosecutors may hope to prompt the individual to provide information, evidence, or testimony that can assist in the investigation or implicate others.
3. Afford an opportunity to retain legal counsel: The target letter allows the individual to seek legal representation promptly. It is crucial for individuals facing potential criminal charges to have legal counsel who can advise them on their rights, guide them through the legal process, and help protect their interests.
4. Facilitate negotiations: In some cases, a letter may be used as a starting point for negotiations between the defense and the prosecution. It can initiate discussions regarding potential plea agreements, cooperation agreements, or other resolutions to the case.
5. Fulfill legal requirements: Target letters can be seen as a procedural step to comply with legal requirements and ensure fairness in the investigative process. They help ensure that individuals are aware of the investigation and have the opportunity to respond or defend themselves.
It’s important to note that receiving a target letter does not automatically mean the person will be charged or found guilty of a crime. It signifies that they are under scrutiny and should take the necessary steps to protect their rights and interests during the investigation.
Indicted Meaning – What is an Indictment of Government Contractors?
After a federal prosecutor studies the information from investigators and the information they gather from talking with the individuals involved, the prosecutor decides whether to present the case to the grand jury. If you are indicted, you are given formal notice that the government believes you have committed a crime. The indictment letter contains the basic information that informs the person of the charges against them.
After studying the evidence presented in the investigation, the government attorney has to decide whether or not to present the case before a federal grand jury to bind the case over for a formal trial.
Compared to a target letter to federal contractors, a federal indictment by a grand jury. gives you formal notice that the federal prosecutor believes that you have committed a crime. Common crimes where contractors are indicted in government contract fraud cases include major fraud against the government, conspiracy to commit fraud against the government, government contract fraud involving small business procurement violations, and other allegations such as false claims violations and more.
In sum, a federal indictment is a critical stage in the government’s grand jury investigation where it has to constitutionally notify you that formal charges are brought against you. By meeting the definition of an indictment, the notice includes very basic information that gives you an idea of what you are charged with (various counts are listed in the Indictment). See What Happens After Government Contractors Receive a Grand Jury Indictment.
A grand jury listens to evidence presented and then votes in secret on whether they believe that the prosecutor has put forth enough evidence to bring federal charges against you (this is the indictment stage.) Grand jury indictments are usually for federal felony cases. See information about getting federal indictments dismissed.
Get Professional Help from Our Defense Lawyers if You Have Given a Target Letter or Facing Indictment
If you are a federal government contractor, employee, or individual served with a target letter or notice of indictment by a grand jury or under federal criminal investigation, call our government contractor defense attorneys immediately for a free and confidential initial consultation. Call toll-free at 1.866.601.5518.