Most people understand the severity of criminal charges, especially on a federal level. Responding properly can prevent harming your case and reduce the extent of consequences, if not eliminate them.
However, what about when a federal agent simply contacts you? No charges exist against you, and maybe the case does not even concern you directly, so how does the way you interact with the agent affect the situation? The answer is that the impact of your response is great, so follow these tips to avoid trouble.
Know your rights
While cooperating with any type of law enforcement or government official is wise, you do not have to do so beyond your legal duty. A federal agent cannot enter your home without a warrant, so you do not need to let the person inside. You can even communicate through a closed door if you want, though that can be difficult. Verify your identity, but you do not have to answer any further questioning. You have the right to have an attorney with you during any contact.
Watch for traps
Agents have training in how to get you to talk. They may seem friendly, persuasive or intimidating. They may even use guilt to open you up so they can gather relevant information regarding you and those with whom you associate. Politely but firmly refuse to answer any questions and repeat this statement if necessary. Assert your right to have legal representation present first.
Act on your right
Even if you have nothing to hide or want to help with an investigation, you should still act on the right to have a lawyer by your side. Doing so does not imply you are guilty or trying to withhold information. It is simply a protective measure for yourself to prevent saying or doing anything that is illegal or can become evidence against you or someone else.