Another example of charges being brought against an individual as a result of actions taken during an investigation.
Roger Stone's recent indictment highlights the perils of responding to a federal investigation. Like Martha Stewart and many others, Mr. Stone was indicted for actions he took in response to an investigation, not the underlying activities being investigated.
The DOJ's Special Counsel's Office is investigating potential foreign interference in the Presidential Election. Although "collusion" itself is not a crime, accepting anything of value from a foreign national to aid a federal, state or local election is a violation of U.S. campaign finance laws. See 52 U.S.C. §30121.
Mr. Stone was not indicted for campaign finance violations, or any of the other potential crimes the Special Counsel's Office is investigating. Mr. Stone was indicted for conduct he took in response to the investigation. Mr. Stone's indictment includes allegations that he failed to turn over responsive documents, made false statements to an investigating committee of Congress, and urged a witness to lie or inappropriately take the Fifth Amendment.
Although Mr. Stone's indictment indicates that he knowingly misled Congress and intentionally tampered with a witness, even innocent conduct undertaken during an investigation can have unintended consequences. Your response to an investigation can be as important as the underlying events being scrutinized.
If you receive a government subpoena, or find yourself involved in a state or federal investigation, follow the advice of counsel. Even if you haven't committed any underlying violation, it is important to avoid the potential pitfalls of responding to or cooperating in an active investigation.