There’s legal trouble brewing around your company, and you’re worried about your future. You have heard the federal agents refer to you as a “person of interest” in their investigation.
Should you be concerned? Absolutely.
The term “person of interest” isn’t an official designation
Federal authorities use the term “witness” to describe someone who may or may not have information that is relevant to an investigation. Meanwhile, they might use the term “suspect” or “target” for someone they fully believe has committed a crime.
So, where does that leave you? Well, the term “person of interest” is intentionally vague. It is sometimes applied to a suspect when the authorities hope to keep that person from “lawyering up” and ending all lines of open communication. It’s sometimes applied to a reluctant witness in an ominous way so that the authorities can apply a little pressure on that person to tell them what they know.
You don’t know which you are right now, and the reality is that you can go from a “person of interest” to suspect or a target very quickly. Meanwhile, the investigators will do everything they can to get you talking – and keep you talking – without putting you under arrest. That way, they don’t have to give you a Miranda Warning and remind you that you have the right to remain silent – and to legal counsel.
What should you do in this situation?
Federal laws are very complicated, and people can break them without even realizing it. Even a witness in a federal investigation can benefit from legal guidance. If you’re a “person of interest,” however, you don’t want to hesitate to protect your rights.