Targets, Subjects, And Witnesses In Federal Investigations
The first status you have to worry about is being a target. A target is the person to the prosecutor is gunning for, that's the target of investigation. It's the person who the prosecutor believes has committed a crime and their trying to figure out what the crime was and how to build a case against them.
A witness, on the other hand, is somebody who has really got very little exposure. The prosecutor believes that the person hasn't done it wrong, they simply have information, they were there, they saw something, they have documents that relate to something. They're not caught up in it.
The last status is in-between the two, you’re a subject. And so if you're subject in an investigation what that means is that you're not a target, so they're not gunning for you, but the prosecutor thinks that there is good reason to believe you may have done something wrong. You may have committed a crime or been a part of a criminal activity or part of a conspiracy.
If you find out that you're involved in an investigation, a federal law enforcement investigation, one thing you can and should do is have your lawyer reach out to the prosecutor and find out from the prosecutor what your status is. The prosecutor will often tell you and that can give you a little bit of peace of mind.
One problem with that, though is that your status in the investigation can change. When the prosecutor learns more information you can move from a witness to a subject or a subject to a witness and so investigations tend to be fluid. And it's important to keep in mind the comfort you get from anyone status could shift as the investigation moves forward.