What to do When the Feds Come Knocking: A Guide to Government Investigations

Imagine this: You’re at home with your family when you hear a knock on the door. You look outside and see that it’s a federal agent. No matter whether you have a warrant out for your arrest or not, your heart skips a beat. What could they want? What are they going to charge you with? Are you facing an arrest? 

Knowing what to do when the feds come knocking is difficult. You want to cooperate with the federal agents, but you don’t want to incriminate yourself. You want to answer questions, but you have no idea how those answers can and will be used against you in court.

It’s a terrifying situation for anyone to face — guilty or innocent. That’s why we wrote this guide.

A charge for a federal crime is perhaps the most frightening situation you’ll ever experience. We understand that. No matter whether you are guilty or innocent, facing a federal judge is intimidating and overwhelming.

We wrote this guide to ease your fears and teach you how to protect yourself, your family, and your future. We’ll guide you on how to make the right decisions for your case so that you can have the best chance at winning your case.

In this report, you’ll learn:

  • The first thing you should do when you open the door for the feds.
  • Why you need a lawyer on your side (and the dangers of not hiring a lawyer).
  • What to expect from your arraignment.
  • How to find a strong attorney for your case.

Did the feds knock on your door? Call Mordock Law Group today to work with a skilled federal defense attorney and start planning your case now!

What to do When You Open the Door for the Feds

They knocked and they know you’re home. Now you have to open the door and face the federal agents who hold your future in their hands. The encounter can go one of two ways:

  1. They could have a warrant for your arrest.
    Many federal agents will not come knocking on your door without a warrant for your arrest. If they have a warrant, the best thing you can do is to be compliant. Don’t try to fight the federal agents on looking through your stuff. Instead, sit back and let them do their job.

    It’s important to remember that being compliant does not mean you have to answer their questions. In fact, it is your right to remain silent. Be courteous but wait to answer any questions until you have a lawyer present.

  2. If they don’t have a warrant, hire a lawyer immediately
    In some cases, the federal agents won’t have a warrant. This means you do not have to allow them into your home or give them permission to search your belongings.

    If a federal agent comes knocking on your door without a warrant, it’s time to call a lawyer! They have their eye on you and will do what they can to get a warrant soon. The more prepared you are with your lawyer, the better your chances are at winning your case.

No matter whether the federal agents have a warrant or not, when you open the door, you need to call a lawyer.

Why You Must Have a Lawyer on Your Side

Federal agents have the upper hand in your arrest. They know the law, they know the evidence placed against you, and they know how to manipulate a situation so that you look guilty. As tempting as it might be to try to fight a federal crime on your own, it’s not worth the risk.

Having a federal criminal defense lawyer on your side is vital. Here’s why:

  • You need someone to defend your side in the 304 form submitted to the judge.
    When the federal agents interrogate you, they submit a form to the judge documenting the session. This is the 304 form and it can have a major impact on your case. The federal agents can manipulate things in the form. Without having a lawyer present, no one will ever know what was manipulated or how your discussion transpired. Your lawyer takes notes while the feds are interrogating you. This helps find discrepancies in the 304 form, which may be your ticket to winning your case. See the appendix for more information on this form.
  • Lawyers understand the process and can give you peace of mind
    Federal investigations are far more complex than you might initially realize. Having a lawyer on your side experienced in federal criminal defense gives you peace of mind. You’ll know exactly what to expect and what to watch out for from the federal agents.
  • Hiring a lawyer fast will give you more time to plan your defense
    Planning a strong defense doesn’t happen overnight – even if you are innocent! The sooner you put a lawyer on your side, the sooner he can start working on your case. The more time he has to prepare your defense, talk to the appropriate people, and put together your case, the more likely you will win.

Hiring a lawyer after being charged with a federal crime is a must. A lawyer will protect you throughout the process so you have the best chance at winning your case.

Risks of Not Hiring a Lawyer Right Away

Still not sure if you want to hire a lawyer for your case? Think you can plan a strong defense on your own? Think you have nothing to hide? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you’re putting your case at risk.

Hiring a lawyer to represent you against the feds is one of the smartest things you can do. Here are a few of the risks you’re taking by opting to represent yourself in court:

  • You have less time to plan your defense
    On the surface, it might not seem like your case will move that quickly. You might think that putting together a defense strategy is easy – that is, until you learn what must happen before you go to trial.


    When you plan your defense, you are not able to start pulling together evidence, expert witnesses and more until it’s too late. The prosecution has months longer than you to plan how they will prove your guilt in court. Without a lawyer, you’re immediately starting at a disadvantage.

  • You are at more of a risk of saying the wrong thing
    Something that you might think is completely innocent could incriminate you in court. You won’t realize this until it’s too late. Without a lawyer representing you, you are at a heightened risk of saying something that could put your future in jeopardy.
  • You send a weaker signal to the US Attorney’s Office
    The person you choose to represent you in court sends a direct signal to the US Attorney’s Office on the type of defense you will use. Without a strong lawyer on your case, the prosecution will think your case is a slam dunk. On the other hand, the prosecution will worry if they see an experienced lawyer defending your case. This fear by the prosecution is a good thing in your case.

Your future is too important to put at risk by not hiring a lawyer. When you’re ready to hire someone for your case, make sure you choose the right person to represent you.

How to Find a Strong Lawyer for Your Case

Your defense is too important to leave in the hands of just anyone. You need someone who knows the system, the courts, and how to win. When choosing the right lawyer for your case, here are a few important things to look for.

  • Look for someone with experience similar to your case.
    Experience matters. This is especially true when you are dealing with the District Attorney. Hiring someone familiar with the charges against you makes it easier to know what to expect from the prosecution. It is also beneficial when planning a strong defense strategy in your case.
  • Hire someone aggressive
    Federal crimes are serious matters. They need a strong defense to win. When searching for the right lawyer, hire someone who will aggressively pursue your case. This is vital to your defense.
  • Talk to your friends who have had to hire a criminal defense lawyer
    If you know someone who had to hire a criminal defense lawyer for their own trial, talk to him or her about the experience. Find out what they liked or didn’t like about the lawyer. That’ll help you get a realistic idea of what to expect.
  • Hire someone you feel comfortable talking to
    Your case is very personal. You need someone who you feel comfortable talking to and working with. Without this, your case will be significantly harder on you.
  • Hire someone who will communicate with you throughout the process
    Regular communication from your lawyer will give you peace of mind. This allows you to know your case is moving forward in the right direction. You need someone who will be open, honest, and straightforward with you about what’s happening in your case.

The person who represents you in court plays a major role in the outcome of your case. Keep these factors in mind when searching for the best person to represent you.


When a federal investigator knocks on your door, it is important that you know what to expect and how to react. The best way to handle your case is to put someone on your side who understands what’s happening. This person must be strong enough to stand up against the prosecutors and gentle enough to give you the peace of mind you need.

By hiring the right lawyer to help in your case, you have the best chances at winning against the federal prosecutors. At Mordock Law Group, we have experience in a variety of federal cases and can help you. Contact us to determine whether our federal defense team is right for your case.

Contact Information

At Mordock Law Group, we know what it takes to plan a strong defense and win your case! Stop by or call our uptown New Orleans office to discuss your case.

  • 7611 Maple St, Suite A3, New Orleans, LA 70119
  • Phone: 888-254-0064
  • Fax: 504.342.2154

About the Author: Craig Mordock

Craig Mordock graduated from Seton Hall University with a Bachelor of Science in Finance. He then attended Tulane University Law School where he earned his Juris Doctor degree. He has worked in a variety of legal roles including as Senior Assistant District Attorney for the felony trials section in Orleans Parish. Now he owns his practice, Mordock Law Firm where he works as a civil litigator.

Craig Mordock is barred in the Federal District Court Eastern District of Louisiana, and all Louisiana state courts. As a founding member of the Criminal Court Bar association, and a member of several other associations, including the Louisiana State Bar association, American Bar Association, New Orleans Bar Association, and the Federal Bar association, he’s an experienced, skilled criminal defense lawyer.

Appendix: How the 304 Form Can Make or Break Your Future

The 304 form is the document submitted by the federal investigators describing your interrogation. This is the only documentation used to outline what happened behind closed doors with the federal agents.

No one may record your conversation. The 304 form is the only way the judge knows what was said and what happened during your encounter with the federal agents. Because of that, the judge may see a manipulated version of what transpired.

Without a lawyer present, there is no way to know if the document represents an accurate version of your conversation.

Your lawyer cannot record the interrogation either, but he can take notes. By having your lawyer present when you make a statement, you put another person on your side. Your lawyer will watch for any discrepancies, manipulations or changes to details in the 304 form.

These forms are notorious for having with errors. In fact, some judges are starting to grow skeptical over the 304 form.

Having a lawyer present while you speak with the federal agents can shape your future. Your lawyer knows what to look for in the forms submitted by the District Attorney to the judge. More importantly, your lawyer can serve as your voice and a second opinion when you’re facing a serious charge. Without a lawyer on your side, it’s your voice against the federal agents. This makes it significantly harder — if not impossible — to win your case.

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