Is a Person of Interest Different Than a Target?As the news bombards us with ever-more intrigue related to Russia and the current administration, they bandy about terms such as person of interest, subject, target, and witness. What’s it all about?

Person of Interest

Person of interest just sounds intriguing. In the end, however, this person of interest phrase isn’t an official thing. The term is used to euphemistically designate that the person in question is suspected of involvement in a crime but that there isn’t enough evidence to do much about it.

Nevertheless, the Department of Justice has very specific definitions for other terms that relate to people involved in investigations.


A target is an individual whom the government has compiled substantial evidence against (evidence that links the target to criminal activity). The term target indicates the individual is close to being brought before a grand jury that can potentially charge the target or before a judge who can potentially issue an arrest warrant on a complaint.

The U.S Attorney’s Office – in criminal cases – will sometimes send targets a Target Letter, which lets the target know that he or she is under federal criminal investigation and that encourages the target to retain legal counsel – always in your best interest if you are the target of an investigation.


A subject, on the other hand, is an individual whose conduct falls within the scope of the grand jury’s investigation. The subject of an investigation is typically considered to be involved in criminal activity – usually, however, there isn’t substantial evidence against the subject. Law enforcement often endeavors to interview the subject of an investigation in attempt to collect evidence – these interviews can be conducted informally or in front of the grand jury. Subjects are well advised to obtain legal counsel.


A witness is not a suspect but is, instead, an individual who simply may have pertinent information regarding an ongoing investigation. Witnesses usually make statements either in the field or at the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Witnesses can also be called in front of the grand jury to testify. Even a witness may want to consider obtaining legal guidance.

Whether you are a witness, a subject, a target, or even a person of interest, it’s in your best interest to retain an experienced criminal attorney.

If You’re Involved in an Investigation, Call 732-662-7658 for a Free Consultation Today

If you’re involved in an investigation in New Jersey, you need experienced legal guidance and the Law Offices of Leon Matchin is here to help. Our experienced criminal attorneys have the skill and dedication to defend your rights and to ensure that you understand the legal process as we guide you toward your case’s best possible outcome. Please contact us online or give us a call at 732-662-7658 today.