In the federal criminal justice system, a target letter is a written notification sent by the U.S. Attorney’s office to someone informing them that they are the target of a criminal investigation.
The letter is usually sent after prosecutors have gathered enough evidence to believe that the target has committed a federal crime. The letter will generally provide some information about the crime being investigated, such as a citation to the federal criminal code. The letter also may request that the recipient provide information or documents relevant to the investigation.
A target letter should not be confused with a grand jury subpoena. Compliance with a federal subpoena is mandatory unless excused by a federal judge. On the other hand, the recipient of a target letter is not legally required to take any action, although ignoring the letter is a huge mistake.
A federal target letter can be sent in relation to a wide range of white collar federal crimes including, but not limited to:
- Money laundering
- Securities violations
- Public corruption
- Environmental crimes
In short, receiving a target letter means that the recipient is facing potential criminal charges, and it is important to seek the advice of a qualified attorney to navigate the legal process and protect their rights.