Anyone, whether they are a small business owner, a corporate executive or an average employee, could find themselves questioned by a federal law enforcement officer. There are many federal agencies in the US, many with associated law enforcement agencies. You may even be surprised by which federal agencies have law enforcement organizations. For business violations, these organizations could range from the FBI to the SEC.
Understanding your rights
No matter what the scenario, it is a violation to lie or make a false/fraudulent statement to a federal officer, which could result in real criminal culpability. Here is a brief overview of your rights when speaking to federal officers:
- You are not under any legal requirement to answer a law enforcement officer’s questions when informally questioned.
- Not all federal crimes require that the person had the intention to commit a crime. They could have been acting under the instructions of their employer and unknowingly committed a crime.
- In some cases, you can decline an interview by federal law enforcement.
- If you are required to partake in an interview, you have the right to have a lawyer present.
Protecting yourself from incrimination
Any time that you are dealing with federal law enforcement, it is best to have a lawyer present. If you find that your activities, or the activities of your company, come under the purview of a federal agency, you should contact an attorney experienced in criminal defense in federal courts to make sure that you’re rights are understood before you risk incriminating yourself.