If you’re charged with a crime, chances are it’s a violation of a local ordinance or state statute. But every now and then, if a crime is committed on federal land, a criminal enterprise spans multiple states, or you’re involved in federal campaign shenanigans, you may be facing federal criminal charges.
Those charges and investigations can vary from state and local prosecutions, so here are five questions (and answers) regarding criminal investigations under federal law.
Several states and the federal government require grand jury review of criminal charges. Part of that review can require a submission of evidence or testimony to the grand jury, and subpoenas are formal and legally enforceable requests for information.
“Obstruction” is one of those broad legal terms that applies to a variety of activities and even a few different criminal charges. Obstruction of justice can include failing to produce or destroying evidence, attempting to influence witness testimony, or lying to federal investigators.
For the most part, you don’t have to talk to the FBI. You do have the general right to remain silent, and you can specifically invoke your Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination. But, if you do choose to talk to FBI agents regarding federal charges, lying to them could be a crime in and of itself.
Congress is a federal entity, and has its own investigative authority. And it can also penalize liars as a means to enforce that authority. Violating two federal laws — prohibiting perjury specifically and lying to the feds generally — can land you behind bars for up to five years.
Lawyers are generally off limits when it comes to federal investigations into their clients. So, if the FBI is raiding your lawyer’s office, that’s not a great sign.
If you’ve been charged with a federal offense, or even if federal agents want to talk regarding an ongoing investigation, you’ll want to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney for help.