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This investigation stage of the federal justice system is arguably the important stage in the whole federal case process and is often where the right attorney can have the greatest impact on the ultimate outcome of your case. At the Rossen Law Firm, we understand that facing the federal investigation process in South Florida can be extremely daunting and terrifying and can bring great stress to our clients and their loved ones.

The federal criminal justice system is vast, complex, and often immensely unfair. This is especially true of the way federal agents and federal prosecutors investigate individuals for potential violations of federal crimes, using the many tools and resources that the federal government has at its disposal. The federal investigation process can make you feel overwhelmed and alone.

With the Rossen Law Firm, you are NEVER alone. We’re here to guide you through every step of the process, standing in your corner and advocating tirelessly for your rights. With a deep understanding of federal criminal law and extensive experience representing clients at all stages of the federal process, our attorneys specialize in navigating the intricate federal criminal investigations process.

Understanding Federal Criminal Investigations

These investigations can involve a range of criminal offenses, from drug trafficking and fraud to tax evasion and securities violations. A federal criminal investigation typically begins long before charges are formally filed. In many cases, individuals may not even know they are under investigation until they are contacted by federal agents or receive a target letter. This makes it critically important to secure legal counsel as early as possible if you suspect you may be under federal scrutiny.

Federal criminal investigations in South Florida and across the country are conducted by various federal agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Human Health Services – Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), or the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Federal criminal investigations often start as civil investigations, such as a Medicare investigator investigating a laboratory for possible Medicare regulatory violations.

In a criminal investigation, a federal prosecutor may or may not be directing the investigation or generally involved in the decision-making process, depending on the stage of the investigation. Even when assigned to a particular investigation, the role that the prosecutor plays in a federal investigation varies depending on the case and the investigatory agency. The federal prosecutor is known as an Assistant United States Attorney. The authority, discretionary power, and responsibilities of the United States Attorney with relation to criminal matters encompass without limitation by enumeration the following:

  • Investigating suspected or alleged offenses against the United States
  • Causing investigations to be conducted by the appropriate federal law enforcement agencies,
  • Declining prosecution
  • Authorizing prosecution
  • Determining the manner of prosecuting and deciding trial-related questions;
  • Recommending whether to appeal or not to appeal from an adverse ruling or decision
  • Dismissing prosecutions
  • Handling civil matters related thereto, which are under the supervision of the Criminal Division.

The United States Attorney, as the chief federal law enforcement officer in his district, is authorized to request the appropriate federal investigative agency to investigate alleged or suspected violations of federal law. The federal investigators operate under the hierarchical supervision of their bureau or agency and consequently are not ordinarily subject to direct supervision by the United States Attorney. However, the two bodies of federal law enforcement power operate hand-in-hand.

Federal law enforcement agents in Fort Lauderdale have a large toolbox of investigative techniques at their disposal. These are just some examples:

  • Wiretapping phones
  • Performing physical surveillance over a period of weeks or months
  • Monitoring the suspect’s online activity
  • Recording consensually monitored conversations (i.e., having someone wear a “wire” or record phone calls for the agents)
  • Reviewing a suspect’s financial documents, such as bank records or tax returns
  • Issuing grand jury subpoenas for testimony and documents
  • Executing search warrants and analyzing the materials obtained, such as computers and smartphones
  • Conducting witness interviews and proffer sessions.

The federal prosecutor uses the results of the investigation in bringing charges against an individual or declining to do so. The United States Attorney is authorized to initiate prosecution by filing a complaint, requesting an indictment from the grand jury, and when permitted by law, by filing an information in any case which, in his or her judgment, warrants such action.

The attorneys at the Rossen Law Firm are extremely familiar with the way the prosecutors and agents in South Florida interact, and hiring a federal defense attorney who understands the nuances of this relationship is crucial, especially during the investigation stage of the process.

Witness vs. Subject vs. Target

The ultimate goal of the federal investigation stage is to avoid criminal charges. Understanding the complex differences in the way federal investigators label the individuals they are investigating is essential to a successful result. The three primary categories of individuals who are sought by federal investigations are (1) Witnesses, (2) Subjects, and (3) Targets. The Rossen Law Firm is extremely experienced in representing all three groups, as all three require legal representation.

Determining where our client falls on the Witness-Subject-Target spectrum is a crucial first step in the federal investigation process. Understanding how the federal government views our client dictates the nature of interactions between the defense attorney and agents or prosecutors during the investigation stage. The “classification” directly relates to our client’s potential criminal exposure and the likelihood and timetable of an arrest and/or formal criminal charges.

At one end of the spectrum is a “witness.”  A witness may have information that the government considers important to its investigation. Typically, prosecutors do not believe a witness has committed any crime.  Because the risk of criminal liability is low, a witness may often choose to cooperate with investigators and may be willing to testify before the grand jury or sit for an interview with agents. Even a witness requires experienced legal representation to make this extremely important decision.

  • Being a “witness” does not necessarily mean that you observed or saw a crime happen. You may have information that law enforcement believes might be relevant in a criminal investigation to help prove either the guilt or the innocence of another individual or business.
  • Even if you are truly just a witness, it does not mean that they should ever speak to law enforcement without an attorney. You may still be subject to “obstruction of justice” or “lying to a federal agent.”

At the opposite end of the spectrum from witness is someone classified as a “TARGET.”  When a prosecutor deems someone a target, it means the government believes there’s substantial evidence that person has committed a crime. A “subject” sits between a witness and a target. To a federal prosecutor, a subject is a person whose conduct is within the scope of a grand jury’s investigation. That typically means that the government considers the subject’s behavior suspicious, and there is some risk that the subject has engaged in illegal activity. Targets of a federal criminal investigation in Fort Lauderdale may receive a “Target Letter”.

What is a “Target Letter”, and why is it important to contact the Rossen Law Firm if you receive a Target Letter?

In the realm of federal criminal investigations, few documents are as critical and potentially unnerving as a “target letter.” This letter, typically sent by a federal prosecutor or a federal agency, is a clear indication that you are under investigation for a federal crime. A target letter is a formal written notification that informs an individual that they are the “target” of a federal criminal investigation. In this context, being a “target” means that the prosecutor or federal agency believes they have substantial evidence linking you to a crime.

The letter usually outlines the nature of the crime you’re suspected of committing, your rights in the situation, and an invitation to appear before a federal grand jury to provide testimony. Receiving a target letter is a serious matter and strongly suggests that the federal government is close to or has already decided to prosecute.

Receiving a target letter can be a distressing experience, but it is crucial not to ignore it or attempt to navigate the situation alone. Here’s why hiring an attorney experienced in the South Florida federal investigation process is critical:

  • Interpreting the Letter: A target letter is a complex legal document that may be challenging for non-lawyers to fully understand. An attorney can help decipher the letter’s implications and the severity of the charges, and guide you through the federal justice system.
  • Safeguarding Your Rights: You have certain constitutional rights, such as the right to remain silent to avoid self-incrimination and the right to legal counsel. A lawyer can ensure these rights are protected and explain when and how to exercise them.
  • Legal Strategy and Guidance: An attorney can develop an effective legal strategy based on the specifics of your case. This could include preparing you for a grand jury testimony, challenging the investigation’s legality, or negotiating with federal prosecutors.
  • Managing Communication: Any statements you make can be used against you in a court of law. Having an attorney manage all communications with law enforcement and federal prosecutors can prevent unintended self-incrimination.
  • Building a Defense: If you are ultimately indicted, your attorney will have been involved in the case from the start and can begin building a robust defense immediately. Early involvement can lead to more favorable outcomes, such as plea deals or even case dismissals.

In short, if you receive a target letter, it’s a clear signal that you’re in the crosshairs of a federal investigation, and a federal criminal defense attorney can be your best shield. They can provide the legal expertise, strategic advice, and rigorous representation you need to face what could be one of the most challenging times in your life. Don’t wait – if you’ve received a target letter, seeking legal help should be your first priority.

Prosecutors are not required by any law to tell individuals where they fit within the investigation, but DOJ policy does require that a prosecutor inform a subject or a target of their rights if called to testify before the grand jury. If an individual is a target of the grand jury investigation, prosecutors may inform that person of her status through a “target letter,” and give that person the opportunity to testify before the grand jury before seeking an indictment.

Zealous advocacy by defense attorneys can change the Government’s opinion of where our client falls on this spectrum. Retaining an experienced federal criminal defense attorney as early as possible is vital, as the major goal of the investigative stage is often to get in contact with the Government early enough before the Government has classified our clients as a target, if possible, or before a Grand Jury has been convened.

The Grand Jury

The grand jury system is a key aspect of the federal criminal justice process in the United States. If you find yourself at the center of a federal grand jury investigation in Fort Lauderdale or elsewhere, understanding the proceedings and the critical role a federal criminal defense attorney plays can make a significant difference in your case.

The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution mandates the use of grand juries for federal felony charges. A federal grand jury consists of 16 to 23 citizens who serve for a term of approximately 18 months. The grand jury’s purpose is to hear evidence presented by the prosecution and decide whether there is “probable cause” to believe a crime has been committed.

Unlike a trial jury, the grand jury does not decide guilt or innocence. Instead, if the grand jury believes the evidence is sufficient, they will return an indictment, which is a formal accusation initiating a criminal case. The grand jury may also be used by the United States Attorney to investigate alleged or suspected violations of federal law.

The federal grand jury process is opaque and one-sided. The proceedings are conducted in secret, and only the prosecutors, the grand jurors, and the court reporter are usually present. Unlike in a trial setting, the rules of evidence are less strict, which allows the prosecution to present hearsay evidence or evidence that may be inadmissible at trial.

Moreover, the subject of the investigation does not have a right to present their evidence or witnesses, and they are not entitled to a defense attorney in the grand jury room. However, if called to testify, the individual can step outside the grand jury room to consult with their attorney. This imbalance underscores why having a South Florida attorney by your side during a federal investigation is critical.

The grand jury is an independent body whose functions include not only the investigation of crime and the initiation of criminal prosecution but also the protection of the citizenry from unfounded criminal charges. The federal prosecutor’s responsibility is to advise the grand jury on the law and to present evidence for its consideration. In discharging these responsibilities, the prosecutor must be scrupulously fair to all witnesses and must do nothing to inflame or otherwise improperly influence the grand jurors.

Grand Jury Subpoenas

It is crucial for your defense attorney, although not permitted to take part in the grand jury process, to put you in the best position leading up to a grand jury, and after the grand jury, in the investigation phase of a federal case in order to obtain the most favorable outcome. This often includes assisting our client in complying with a grand jury subpoena.

A federal grand jury subpoena is a legally binding order issued by a grand jury in a federal criminal investigation. This document compels an individual or entity to do one of two things: testify as a witness about a particular issue (subpoena ad testificandum) or produce specific documents or physical evidence (subpoena duces tecum). It’s a critical tool in a grand jury’s inquiry to determine if probable cause exists to indict a person for a federal crime.

If you or your business has received a federal grand jury subpoena, it’s of utmost importance that you seek legal representation from an attorney immediately. Let’s delve into why.

Receiving a federal grand jury subpoena can be an overwhelming experience. It might indicate that you are a witness, a subject, or even the target of a federal criminal investigation. Regardless of your status in the investigation, here’s why it’s crucial to engage an attorney from the Rossen Law Firm:

  • Expertise in Federal Criminal Law: Federal criminal law is intricate and often difficult to navigate without legal training. An experienced federal criminal defense attorney has the knowledge and understanding of the law, the federal court system, and the grand jury process, which can help you maneuver this complicated situation.
  • Protect Your Rights: You have constitutional rights that need protection during a federal investigation. For instance, you have the right against self-incrimination, a right to counsel, and a right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. An attorney can ensure these rights are upheld and can guide you on when and how to invoke these rights.
  • Assess the Subpoena: Federal grand jury subpoenas can be extensive and burdensome. A skilled attorney can evaluate the subpoena’s scope, ensuring it’s not overly broad or unreasonable, and possibly negotiate with federal prosecutors to limit the scope of information required.
  • Legal Strategy: An attorney can help devise a legal strategy tailored to your specific circumstances. They can counsel you on how to respond to the subpoena, whether to testify or provide the requested documents, and how to handle any potential pitfalls.
  • Preemptive Defense Building: If you are a potential target or subject of the investigation, your lawyer can begin crafting a robust defense strategy immediately, laying the groundwork for any subsequent legal proceedings.
  • Confidentiality: Conversations with your attorney are protected by attorney-client privilege. This confidentiality allows you to freely discuss the situation with your lawyer, enabling them to provide the most effective representation.

Handling a federal grand jury subpoena is not a task to be taken lightly or tackled without legal counsel. In these situations, the stakes are high, and the potential consequences are severe. An experienced Fort Lauderdale attorney is an indispensable ally, providing the legal expertise, strategic advice, and advocacy necessary to protect your rights and interests during a federal criminal investigation. If you receive a grand jury subpoena, seek legal help from the Rossen Law Firm immediately.

The Importance of the Rossen Law Firm During the Federal Investigation Process in Fort Lauderdale or South Florida

If you or a loved one believe or are told that you are the suspect or target of a federal investigation, or if you believe you are just a witness to a federal crime, hiring an experienced attorney as early as possible can significantly impact the outcome of your case. Here’s why:

  1. Legal Guidance: Federal criminal law is complex, and the investigation and grand jury process is no exception. A skilled attorney can help you understand the process, your rights, and potential outcomes.
  2. Evidence Analysis: An attorney can review the evidence the government has against you and assess its strength.
  3. Strategic Planning: A good defense lawyer can help you strategize your next steps. For example, they may advise you to invoke your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination rather than speaking to federal investigators or testifying before the grand jury.
  4. Negotiating with Prosecutors: In some cases, an experienced attorney may be able to negotiate with federal prosecutors to reach a resolution before an indictment is returned, potentially leading to reduced charges or even a dismissal.
  5. Preparing for What Comes Next: If the federal investigation results in criminal charges, most commonly in the form of a grand jury returning an indictment, you will need to be prepared to defend yourself at trial. An attorney can begin developing a robust defense strategy from the outset.

In conclusion, navigating a federal grand jury investigation can be an intimidating process, but you don’t have to face it alone. A federal criminal defense attorney is an indispensable ally, providing the legal expertise, strategic advice, and advocacy you need during this challenging time. Don’t wait until an indictment is filed; contact the Rossen Law Firm as soon as you learn you are facing the federal investigation process in South Florida.

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00:07 08 Sep 22
In one of the most stressful times in my life, Rossen Law Firm was there for me. Leaving no stone unturned they provided patience and knowledge in every detail of my case. I’m very thankful and proud of this law firm family and especially of my lawyer, Scott Simmons for guiding, defending and helping me in every way possible. He and this law firm family come highly recommended from personal experience!!!
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15:24 26 Aug 22
I had an unfortunate situation with a family member that lead to my arrest and being charged with DV Battery. This was the first time I had ever been arrested so I was very nervous and afraid of what was going to happen to me. After talking with Adam I decided to retain him and let me tell you this was the BEST decision I could have ever made. Adam made me feel so comfortable and confident that everything will turn out the best in my favor. He is professional, ethical and supportive. He was always available too answer any questions or concerns.Not to mention, his team at the office is awesome they are so friendly and welcoming. Anytime I had a question when I called the office they were able to guide me in the rightdirection. They always were in contact with me with any information or updates regarding my case. Adams team is GREAT!Adam delivered, my case was DISMISSED. So if you want an attorney the is gonna fight for you and get the job done retain the BEST there is Adam Rossen!!!
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13:27 28 Jul 22
Adam Rossen and the team at Rossen Law took great care in handling my case. They are very professional, and get the job done. I was particular relieved to see just how much empathy they showed with me, and how effortless it was to be their client.I literally visited them twice. My initial consultation, and then to pickup the final docs. I have nothing but great things to say about these folks, and I would highly recommend them to anyone. Thanks Guys.
Terry ChristopherTerry Christopher
12:32 09 May 22
I had an amazing experience with The Rossen Law Firm. The staff were very professional. Attorney Susan Lawson went above and beyond working on my case. We were thoroughly prepared for trial. Mrs. Lawson reviewed hours of body and dash camera footage multiple times and aggressively performed depositions on witnesses and law enforcement.The final outcome for me was the state dropped my case, due to the great work Susan and the Rossen team performed. I didn’t even need to go to trial.This law firm does not play around. They pay attention to detail and they FIGHT FOR YOU!Thank you Adam, team, and a special thank you to Susan for your amazing work! I really appreciate you.
Ketiana ProvinceKetiana Province
20:27 23 Mar 22
My experience with Rossen Law Firm was excellent. From the consultation to the end.. My attorney Susan Lawson gave my son's case all the time and attention that was needed to be successful in court. She was confident during all the court proceedings. My favorite part was when she said we are family, never once my son and I were treated other then that. I very much appreciate the knowledge and support I received through Rossen Law Firm.
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