I’m frequently asked by clients whether they should answer questions from the FBI local detectives or any other police agency.

The simple answer to that question is absolutely, positively, hell no! While it’s a crime to lie to the FBI, that doesn’t mean that you have to talk to them. You should never talk to the FBI without your lawyer present.

If the FBI contacts you, and wants you to answer questions, you should say “I invoke my right to counsel. I won’t answer any questions without my lawyer present and I wish to remain silent.” Then pick up the phone and call.

Real life examples:

Doing it wrong

Agent Smith: Hi, I am special agent Angelica Smith with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and this is my colleague special agent Christina Moore. Are you Mr. Adams?

Adams: Yes I am. How are you doing tonight. It isn’t everyday I meet agents from the FBI. Wow! Am I in trouble or something? Haha. (*Talking to much already)

Agent Smith: Nothing to worry about. You’re not in any trouble but we could use your help. We have a few questions about a friend. Do you mind we come in for a minute?

Adams: Not at all. I was just making tea. Make yourselves comfortable.

Agent Smith: Thanks. What a nice place you’ve got here. What is that a 65″ flatscreen? Nice.

Adams: Thanks, so, eh, what is this all about?

Agent Smith: Do you know someone named Tom Beverly?

Adams: Yes, he runs the non-profit that I donate to every year. He’s a wonderful guy.

Agent Smith: Look, I am not here to hurt you. Just be honest and tell me that you knew that occassionally he was skimming some of the money to fund his lavish lifestyle.

Adams: Err, ok, yeah I guess.

Agent Smith: And were you aware that he was using the funds from his non-profit to fund terrorism and organized crime?

Adams: Wait, what? (Sound of handcuffs)

Agent Smith: You’re under arrest.

How this should have gone:

Doing it right

Agent Smith: Hi, I am special agent Angelica Smith with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and this is my colleague special agent Christina Moore. Are you Mr. Adams?

Adams: That’s me. What’s up?

Agent Smith: Nothing to worry about. You’re not in any trouble but we could use your help. We have a few questions about a friend. Do you mind we come in for a minute?

Adams: Respectfully, I do mind. My lawyer would kill me if I ever answered questions from law enforcement without him present. Here is his card.

Agent Smith: Oh we don’t need to make this formal. It’s just a conversation. I’m on your side. Let’s do this the easy way.

Adams: I have clearly stated that want my lawyer present, please repect that. I have said that clearly. Am I free to leave? (Pause) I’m going inside now. Please call my lawyer. Good day.

Agent Smith: Ok. Here’s my card.

Adams: Thank you. Have a nice day.

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