White Collar Crime Charges: Here’s Why You Need an Experienced Federal Defense Lawyer
White collar crimes refer to non-violent crimes committed by business professionals or public officials, usually for financial gain. These crimes are often complex and can carry severe penalties, which is why having an experienced federal defense lawyer is critical if you are facing charges.
Common White Collar Crimes
Some of the most common white collar crimes include:
- Fraud: This covers a wide range of offenses like wire fraud, mail fraud, bank fraud, mortgage fraud, securities fraud, insurance fraud, and healthcare fraud. Fraud involves intentionally deceiving someone for financial gain.
- Embezzlement: This involves stealing or misappropriating funds entrusted to you by an employer or client. Examples are payroll fraud or stealing company funds.
- Bribery: This involves offering or accepting anything of value in exchange for an official act, like a government contract. Bribery of public officials is illegal.
- Tax Evasion: This involves intentionally underpaying taxes through illegal means, like hiding income or overstating deductions.
- Money Laundering: This involves concealing the source of illegally obtained funds by filtering them through legitimate businesses.
- Insider Trading: This involves trading securities based on material, nonpublic information in violation of a duty to keep it confidential.
- Racketeering: This involves participating in a pattern of illegal activities by an organized criminal enterprise. Common charges are RICO violations.
Why Federal Charges Are Common
Most serious white collar crimes violate both federal and state laws. However, federal agencies like the FBI, IRS, SEC, and DOJ have far more resources than state and local agencies. The federal sentencing guidelines also impose harsher penalties. For these reasons, many complex white collar crime cases end up being prosecuted in federal court.
Federal charges also make sense because white collar crimes often cross state borders. Fraud schemes frequently involve wire transfers between banks in different states. And money laundering can route funds internationally. Federal prosecution allows all these interstate activities to be combined into a single case.
Why an Experienced Federal Defense Lawyer is Critical
Facing federal prosecution is daunting even for experienced attorneys. Some key benefits of retaining an expert federal defense lawyer include:
- Avoiding charges: An experienced lawyer may be able to convince prosecutors not to press charges by arguing weaknesses in the government’s case.
- Plea bargains: Skilled negotiation can result in dropping or reducing charges through a favorable plea deal. This is how most federal cases conclude.
- Sentencing mitigation: Even if convicted, an expert attorney can argue for a below-guidelines sentence and minimize collateral consequences.
- Trial experience: Less than 5% of federal cases go to trial, but if needed, you want an attorney experienced in federal court and rules of evidence.
- Appeals: Federal appeals are complex, with strict deadlines. An expert lawyer can identify grounds for appeal and navigate the process.
- Relationships: Experienced federal practitioners develop relationships with prosecutors and knowledge of their tactics. This inside expertise can provide a big advantage.
- Resources: Top federal lawyers have access to investigators, forensic accountants and technology experts to match the government’s firepower.
Questions to Ask When Hiring a Federal Defense Lawyer
If you are facing federal charges, make sure to ask these key questions when interviewing defense lawyers:
- Do you regularly handle complex white collar federal cases? What is your track record?
- How much of your practice is devoted to federal defense work?
- Will you personally handle my case or pass it to an associate?
- Are you admitted to practice in my federal district and circuit courts?
- How many federal criminal trials have you taken to verdict? What were the outcomes?
- Do you have experience negotiating federal plea deals for white collar crimes?
- How frequently do you litigate federal sentencing and appeals?
- What resources does your firm provide, like investigators, forensics experts and data analysts?
- Will you provide references from past clients I can contact?