URGENT: Why Am I Getting a Target Letter from States Attorney

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The purpose of the website is so that people who receive a target letter from the United States attorney’s office retain counsel for the limited and immediate purpose to intervene and alert the United States attorney’s office that the target of a federal grand jury investigation will be engaging counsel. Then decisions, whether to cooperate in the investigation or not, can take place once local counsel has been retained. We are a national practice group seeking to assist people who receive target letters or have been notified that they are the subject of a grand jury investigation.

The client benefit is that it stops an arrest warrant from issuing and a decision can be made whether or not to stop the grand jury investigation by way of deciding to plead out to an information which limits the scope of criminal exposure in accordance with the United States federal sentencing guidelines which provide for a departure from the guidelines because of substantial assistance provided to law enforcement.

Contact a Federal lawyer immediately.


More About Target Letters

When a federal prosecutor believes a felony that is punishable by more than one year in prison has been committed, the prosecutor must convene a grand jury and ask for a formal indictment of any suspects. This is a Constitutional duty that protects potentially innocent people against unfair and groundless prosecution. Most of the time, the suspect will be informed that he or she is a target of the grand jury investigation. When the suspect is subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury, the suspect will receive an official target letter.

What is in the Target Letter

A target letter informs the recipient that he or she is being called as a witness to testify before the grand jury. It offers a brief explanation of what the grand jury is and what its role is in the prosecution of federal crimes. The letter will also inform the recipient of what the suspected criminal activity is and warn the recipient that he or she is prohibited from destroying any potential evidence relating to the suspected criminal activity. Finally, the target letter informs the recipient of his or her rights when testifying before a grand jury. Informing a suspect of his or her rights is not a legal requirement, but it is the policy of the Department of Justice to do so. The rights that a suspect will be informed of are:

  • What criminal activity the witness is suspected of committing;
  • That the witness has the right not to incriminate him or herself;
  • That anything the witness says can be used against him or her; and,
  • That the witness will be allowed to step out of the grand jury room to consult with legal counsel if he or she desires to do so.

What Am I Getting a Target Letter From the US Attorney?

It should be obvious that if you receive a target letter the first thing that you should do is to call an attorney. You will only receive the target letter if you are suspected of a serious crime that is being investigated by a grand jury and you are being called as a witness before the grand jury. Although the target letter tells you what your rights are, you will still want to consult with an attorney about how you can protect those rights in your particular case. In some cases, it is possible that a grand jury will decline to issue an indictment after hearing the suspect’s side of the case. An attorney can help make that more likely.

What Else You Can Do About a Target Letter

Many people who are the targets of a grand jury investigation want to present their own witnesses and other evidence to the grand jury. This is one way that the target can attempt to convince the grand jury that it should not issue an indictment. The prosecution does not have to allow the target to do this but ordinarily will allow it if doing so is unlikely to cause undue delays or confusion.

A target who knows that he or she is guilty might also want to negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecution at this point. Because the prosecutor does not yet even have a formal charge against the target and might not even get one from the grand jury, the prosecutor is often willing to offer a deal for a lesser sentence than he or she would be willing to do after the grand jury issues an indictment. An attorney can advise the target whether or not a plea bargain is a good idea in any particular case.

When Suspects Are Not Notified of Grand Jury Investigations

If the prosecution believes that a suspect might flee the country or destroy evidence if notified that he or she is the suspect of a grand jury investigation, the prosecution will not notify the suspect. Notification will also not be given if there is a possibility that doing so would be dangerous for other reasons, such as putting other potential targets on notice. Finally, if a case is routine, the target will not usually be notified of the grand jury. For example, someone who is caught with a large amount of drugs on his or her person might not be notified of the grand jury because the testimony of the arresting officer is all that is needed for the grand jury to issue an indictment and the suspect is aware that any number of federal charges are likely to be filed against him or her.


A target letter can shake your nerves. It is an official notice from the government that someone is suspected of a serious federal crime. For that reason, it is urgent that anyone who receives a target letter speaks to an attorney as soon as possible.