You are Not Alone.
MJL provides free legal representation to people approached by the FBI or Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) for questioning. If visited by an agent:
- You may step outside your home, if you feel safe, or speak through a mail slot or window, but please do not invite agents into your home. If they try to force entry, do not resist, but say: I do not consent to a search.
- Whether visited in person or contacted by phone, please do not answer any questions without an attorney. Instead say politely, as many times as necessary: I don’t wish to answer any questions without an attorney. Please leave your number. My attorney will call you.
- Call MJLs Hotline for Free FBI Representation: (857) 256-1310
Speaking to the FBI Without Counsel is Highly Risky,
Including When You Have “Nothing to Hide.”
Many people contacted by the FBI answer questions without an attorney because they want to help and know they have done nothing wrong. But even if you have committed no crime, you may face serious consequences as a result of speaking with an agent unrepresented. Speaking to an agent without an attorney may put you at risk of prosecution for a false statement (even if you committed no crime prior to speaking with the agent) or may result in repeated visits, pressure to act as an informant, or immigration problems for you or a family member. Even those trying to help an investigation have sometimes been prosecuted and sentenced to many years in prison. If you have information you think could assist an investigation, it is still wise to contact an attorney for help so you can share the information safely.
Be Polite and Confident. Repeat Yourself.
Agents may not be deterred the first time you say you will not speak without an attorney. They may ignore you, threaten you or imply you are overreacting. They may try to reassure you by demonstrating their knowledge of Islam or appeal to your desire to demonstrate loyalty. They are also legally allowed to lie to you (though it is a crime to lie to a federal agent). Be confident and polite, and repeat yourself as many times as necessary: I don’t wish to answer questions without an attorney. Please leave your number. My attorney will call you.
Rights Are Most Effective When We All Use Them.
Speak with your family members about what to do if the FBI or JTTF visit. Make sure everyone you live with knows not to let them enter your home without a warrant. You may want to practice what to do, as it can be difficult to remember if you are surprised by a visit.
When you decline to answer questions without an attorney, you help protect not only yourself but your family and friends who might otherwise be unintentionally impacted by a casual statement. There is nothing suspicious or uncooperative about understanding your rights and protecting yourself and your community. Choosing not to answer questions without an attorney is a wise course of action, fully consistent with your rights under the United States Constitution.
Religious Leaders: Your example is crucial. Please help us promote a culture of respect for our communities’ rights. If congregants seek your guidance when approached by the FBI, please let them know it is important to contact an attorney before answering any questions, in order to protect their families’ and communities’ rights, and please share the MJL hotline for free FBI representation: (857)256-1310.
MJL’s Hotline for Free FBI Representation: (857) 256-1310.
Would you like a Know Your Rights workshop presented at your mosque, school or community center? MJL would be happy to provide one at no cost. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.