February 14, 2020

Do you have fewer rights when questioned by the FBI, not police?

When it comes to law enforcement, federal agents can be very intimidating. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is a federal agency whose primary focus is to gather intelligence, specifically in situations that may involve federal criminal offenses or threats to national security.

There are FBI facilities in many major cities, and agents will investigate everything from drug trafficking to allegations of government insurance fraud. Because of the critical role that the FBI plays at a federal level, many people mistakenly believe that they do not have rights during an encounter with the FBI.

However, in the vast majority of cases, an individual facing questioning or an investigation by the FBI has the same rights that they have when interacting with state or local law enforcement.

Federal agents cannot compel you to implicate yourself

Most people recognize that they have the right to remain silent during an interaction with law enforcement thanks to the popularity of the Miranda warning in police procedural television shows.

People who understand that they have the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney against charges brought by local police may often feel confused about their rights when interacting with federal law enforcement. The same constitutional protections apply regardless of whether you are talking to a local sheriff’s deputy or an FBI agent.

If the FBI has indicated that they want to speak with you or that you may be soon served a subpoena to compel you to testify, knowing more about your rights and getting help standing up for them could be the difference between making a mistake that cost you your freedom and successfully navigating this difficult legal issue.

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