According to the FBI, a federal law enforcement agency will investigate crimes brought to the attention of federal authorities to determine whether an offense happened and who is responsible. Which federal agency investigates any alleged criminal activity depends on the nature of the federal offense.
Additionally, not every crime amounts to a federal offense, meaning that these agencies will only investigate an alleged crime if there is reason to believe that it violated a federal law.
If you are a business owner and suspect you might be the subject of an FBI investigation, make sure to familiarize yourself with the federal criminal justice system process and take care in how you continue to run your business.
Understanding the pretrial stage
Every alleged federal violation needs to go through the federal criminal justice process. The pretrial stage consists of investigations, grand juries and arrests. As part of the investigation into white-collar crimes (i.e. fraud or other federal security law violations), federal agents must obtain documents from you and any other involved parties. To obtain these materials, either the agents will request a subpoena from a grand jury, or a judge or magistrate will issue a search warrant.
A grand jury is responsible for investigating the alleged crime and determining whether an offense exists and who committed it. The grand jury will use subpoena power to collect evidence to make this determination and subsequently issue an indictment, if appropriate.
Running your business as usual
In the meantime, ensure that your business is operating the way it should. Comb through your company’s procedures and double-check for any errors. Review the processes of how your operation runs day-to-day and adjust them if needed. You should also evaluate your personnel to check that their training is current and that all employees follow company protocol while working.
At any time during the investigation process, always remember that you have the right to appropriate legal counsel.