What should I do if I am under investigation for identiy and immigration fraud? 26 Answers as of August 31, 2011

What would be the best plan of action to take if I know I am under investigation by the Justice Department for immigration and identity fraud? Also, what are the punishments?

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Austin Legal Services, PLC
Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
If you are under investigation, seek out legal counsel before making any statement or promises to the police or governmental authorities. Remember, no one has to talk to the police.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 8/31/2011
Clifford Clendenin & O'Hale, LLP
Clifford Clendenin & O'Hale, LLP | Locke T. Clifford
Talk to an attorney. Jail and/or deportation are possible punishments. It just depends on what the charges are and what is on your record.
Answer Applies to: North Carolina
Replied: 6/13/2011
Law Offices of John Carney
Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
You should retain a criminal attorney who has extensive federal court experience. If you are charges with a federal crime your legal fees will usually be much more than in state court. The fee for a federal case will often start at $5,000 and can be more than $25,000. In federal court the sentence is determined by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines which calculate a point score by your prior record and the crimes that you are convicted of. You could get probation or a federal prison term of 1 to 5 years for such charges. You should not talk to anyone other than your attorney and never agree to talk to the authorities or sign a statement no matter what is threatened or promised to get you to make admissions. If you cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed to represent you after you are charged, but usually not during the period that you are under investigation. You should retain an attorney to consult with and possible to surrender you and argue bail, and then the court will appoint a federal public defender. The federal public defenders are much better than most state Legal Aid lawyers, so you will have an experienced attorney to handle the case.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 2/7/2011
Smith & John
Smith & John | Kenneth Craig Smith, Jr.
Too early to know at this time. You should hire a lawyer to communicate for you with the government.
Answer Applies to: Louisiana
Replied: 2/2/2011
Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly
Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly | Brendan M. Kelly
To start with you don't want to say anything. Request a lawyer. The crimes carry Federal time. Resent cases that the Fed's where able to prove on some of my clients resulted in Deportation, but there are work arounds in the law that a good lawyer should be able to deal with. Contact a lawyer ASAP!
Answer Applies to: Nebraska
Replied: 2/2/2011
    Edward  D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law
    Edward D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law | Edward D. Dowling IV
    First this response is general information only and does not establish an attorney client relationship. Without further details I can not advise you as to the range of possible sentences. However you should hire an attorney as this sounds like serious charges.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 2/1/2011
    Miller & Harrison, LLC
    Miller & Harrison, LLC | David Harrison
    Certainly do NOT agree to talk to the police or any other authorities without first talking to a lawyer. The possible penalties can depend on exactly what charges they file etc. so I can't really respond to that in general terms.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 1/31/2011
    Anabelle Dias, P.A.
    Anabelle Dias, P.A. | Anabelle Dias
    You need to hire an attorney asap. Call your local Bar and ask them for referrals.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 1/31/2011
    Law Office of Joseph A. Katz
    Law Office of Joseph A. Katz | Joseph A. Katz
    You need to obtain a free initial consultation with an experienced Federal Law criminal law defense Attorney. You did not mention if the fraud charge would be a Federal crime, as well. Immigration is a complex area. The penalties for convictions under Federal Law are severe. You need to provide more information to effectively advise you.You have no specific charges yet, so it is not possible to advise you about your potential exposure/prison sentence. If you have no record, your potential sentence could certainly be less. You should definitely try to receive probation, if at all possible.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/31/2011
    Timothy J. Thill P.C.
    Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
    Immigration fraud and federal criminal law are not in my practice, however, I would strongly suggest that you contact an attorney who specializes in this area of law. I would imagine that you will be facing time in a Federal prison if convicted for these offenses, but again would strongly suggest you contact an attorney who practices in this field of law, promptly.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 1/31/2011
    William C. Gosnell, Attorney at Law
    William C. Gosnell, Attorney at Law | William C. Gosnell
    Hire a criminal defense attorney immediately.
    Answer Applies to: Tennessee
    Replied: 1/31/2011
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C.
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C. | Dennis Roberts
    You should IMMEDIATELY hire a lawyer versed in both criminal and immigration law. If you can't find such a lawyer hire a criminal lawyer and have him consult with an immigration lawyer. If they come around to question you KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/31/2011
    LT Pepper Law
    LT Pepper Law | Luke T. Pepper
    I would hire a lawyer as the penalties can be very severe for both. I would not talk to anyone without a lawyer present.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 1/31/2011
    Bloom Legal, LLC
    Bloom Legal, LLC | Seth J. Bloom
    The best thing to do would be to hire an attorney and discuss the specifics of your case with them. They will likely have access to your local court system and can make inquiries into the nature of the investigation.

    The maximum penalty for identity fraud crimes was recently expanded under Federal sentencing guidelines to 5 years in prison. Due to the potentially very serious nature of identity theft allegations it is very important to secure competent legal defense.

    If you are seeking representation in this matter in the state of Louisiana we invite you to contact our firm at the information provided on this page to schedule a free case evaluation.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 1/31/2011
    Lawrence Lewis
    Lawrence Lewis | Lawrence Lewis, PC
    You should immediately hire an experienced criminal trial attorney to represent you during the pendency of the investigation. Make sure you let the attorney know all of the facts.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 1/31/2011
    Law Office of Gregory W. Fox
    Law Office of Gregory W. Fox | Gregory W. Fox
    You should contact an attorney who may be able to assist you with contacting the investigating agency and/or conducting your own pre-filing investigation.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/31/2011
    Law Office of Bill Montecucco
    Law Office of Bill Montecucco | Bill Montecucco
    Anytime a person is under investigation, I recommend not answering questions or discussing the issues with anyone but an attorney and to seek immediate representation. Any comments you make can be used against you in a criminal or civil action. There is no guarantee that any statements you make will be taken down accurately or that they will be used in context of how they were intended. If you would like to give me a call, I would be happy to try to anwer any additional questions you may have.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 1/31/2011
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    Remain silent. More people are in prison for being "cooperative." Unless you are employed in some capacity where you have to give a statement; just stay silent. Beyond that, you don't want to destroy evidence neither should you disclose any undiscovered evidence. For God's sake, don't agree to a polygraph or any other "lie detector." These devices are inaccurate; especially when the examinee is nervous and you will be nervous. I am not really up-to-date on federal sentencing guidelines but I believe you would be looking at 3 to 5 years minimum. However, sentences are calculated on criminal history and the seriousness of the crime. Your best bet would be to hire a criminal defense attorney with experience in the federal system. I have also heard that the federal public defender's office is quite good if money is a problem. If your finances qualify you a public defender must be provided for you free of charge. If you feel like talking about your situation, do it only with an attorney so you can be assured of confidentiality. Do not discuss the investigation with anyone else. The fewer people who know about it the better.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 1/31/2011
    Nelson & Lawless
    Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
    No amount of free 'tips and hints' from here or anywhere else are going to help you, other than to exercise your 5th Amendment right to SHUT UP and do NOT talk to anyone except your attorney about your case. Hire one immediately.

    You will learn the actual charges filed, and the potential penalties they carry, once you are arrested and then appear for arraignment at your first court hearing. You can speculate better than anyone else what the charges will be, you are the one they are investigating, and you are the one who knows what the evidence might show.

    If charged with a felony, you potentially face years in prison time if convicted. If charged with a misdemeanor, you face up to 6-12 months in jail. On each count. When arrested and charged with any crime, the proper questions are, can you be convicted, and what can you do? Defend the charges. Go to court, enter a not guilty plea, set up and attend the court hearing[s] and trial date[s]. File evidence suppression or other motions as applicable. Raise all the available defenses with whatever admissible and credible witnesses, evidence and facts are available for legal arguments for motions, diversion, plea-bargaining, or at trial. Go to trial if it can't be resolved with motions or a plea bargain. There is no magic wand to wave and make it all disappear. If you don't know how to do these things, then hire an attorney that does, who will try to get a dismissal, diversion, reduction or other decent outcome through plea bargain for you, or take it to trial. If serious about doing so, and if this is in SoCal courts, feel free to contact me. Ill be happy to help you use whatever defenses you may have. If you can't afford private counsel, you can apply for the Public Defender once arrested.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/31/2011
    Law Offices of Marshall Tauber
    Law Offices of Marshall Tauber | Marshall Tauber
    Best procedure: Get in touch with attorney that maintains a significant practice in federal court criminal defense ask for appointment to meet and consult with this person don't take any chances. There is no way of knowing what penalties you may face. Seek competent representation.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 1/31/2011
    Bruce H. Lehr, P.A.
    Bruce H. Lehr, P.A. | Bruce H. Lehr
    The penalties depend upon the specific charges brought. The answer is remain silent and see an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 1/31/2011
    Goolsby Law Office
    Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
    I am Richard Goolsby, The Goolsby Law Firm, LLC, in Augusta, Georgia. I am a former federal prosecutor in Augusta and currently I practice criminal defense. I would encourage you to promptly retain an experienced criminal lawyer with experience in the federal courts. You face potentially not only sentencing on the immigration matter, but also consecutive sentencing (perhaps two years) on the identity theft matter, depending on the circumstances. You clearly need a criminal lawyer as soon as possible! Good luck!
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 1/31/2011
    The Law Offices of Robert A. Levine
    The Law Offices of Robert A. Levine | Michael G. Levine
    My suggestion would be to contact me or another criminal defense attorney immediately. Those are potentially very serious charges with very serious consequences and you want someone who is familiar with the Federal system. You want to be proactive in addressing these issues rather than reactive. Punishment in the Federal system is based upon the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 1/31/2011
    Arnold & Wadsworth
    Arnold & Wadsworth | Brian Arnold
    This would all depend on the exact charges that they charge you with. If you get called in for an interview or questioning I would hire an attorney to come with you or decline to do such. Remember that if they have not charged you, it is likely they don't have enough evidence yet.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 1/31/2011
    Law Offices of Michael J. Engle
    Law Offices of Michael J. Engle | Michael J. Engle
    If you truly believe that you are the target or subject of a federal investigation, then you should immediately contact a criminal defense attorney with experience in federal court matters. In many cases it is critical to be proactive in responding to the Government's investigation prior to an indictment being issued against you. It is impossible to predict the punishments because the Federal Sentencing Guidelines cannot be calculated with knowing specifics about the offenses charged, enhancements that may apply, mitigating factors that may apply, and the defendant's criminal history. However, when charged with a federal offense it is most likely that one will be facing the potential for some period of incarceration.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 1/31/2011
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