What to Do If the FBI Shows Up At Your Door

It’s 6 a.m. and someone is pounding at your front door. You stumble out of bed, and toward the noise that woke you. But when you swing open the door, you can’t believe your eyes. Two Federal agents are standing on your front stoop, flashing their badges. Not only are you sleepy and disoriented, but you have no idea why they’re there. (Or maybe you do.) Either way, you should have the same calm response. Exercise your Constitutional rights and tell them that you’re not going to talk to them without your attorney present.

The early wake-up call or late night visits are popular tactics of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). It’s an attempt to catch you off guard so that you might answer a few questions. Don’t. Federal agents are trained in the power of persuasion. They may make you feel guilty, scared or impolite for not talking with them. But even if you’ve got a great story, or you’re completely innocent, your words can be turned against you. It’s going to be your word against theirs in a court of law, if it comes to that. An attorney is a witness that you said what you did, and also can protect you against incriminating statements.

Therefore, when federal agents visit your home, simply confirm your identity and tell them that you need to consult an attorney. (You’ll want someone skilled in federal defense.) Do not invite them in, and do not say anything else. If the agents have enough information for an Arrest or Search Warrant, they’ll arrest you on the spot or search your home. But if they don’t, your statement will suffice in getting them to leave.

Remember that by law, the only one who can force you to talk is a courtroom judge. No other law enforcement representative has that power.

Then, whether you are innocent or guilty, call an attorney. That’s important for your own protection. Have that attorney present if you do speak to an FBI agent in the future. You should call an attorney even if you were away from home when the agents visited. In such cases, it’s common for agents to tell family members that they want to talk to you about a crime you may have witnessed. Bring your attorney anyway. If they are bringing you in the discussion, you are already involved in the case.

The FBI has jurisdiction over more than 200 categories of Federal law. Click here for a full list of the types of offenses. Each case that they put together is a compilation of many, many details. Think of it as a puzzle that they are trying to construct. You don’t even want to be on the playing field. A good federal defense attorney will help you navigate an investigation so that you have the best possible outcome.

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