What Should You Do If You’re Under Investigation For A White Collar Crime?
Being under investigation for a white collar crime can be an incredibly stressful and frightening experience. However, there are steps you can take to protect yourself, your rights, and your future. This article provides practical advice on navigating a white collar criminal investigation and building the strongest possible defense.
Get Legal Representation Immediately
The first thing you should do if you find out you are under investigation is retain experienced legal counsel, I cannot stress this enough. Do not try to handle things on your own. A skilled white collar criminal defense attorney can advise you on your rights, review evidence, negotiate with investigators, and start building your defense strategy right away. Your attorney can also interface with investigators on your behalf so you don’t accidentally say something to incriminate yourself. Retaining counsel quickly is key to getting out in front of the investigation.
Say Nothing to Investigators Without Your Attorney Present
You have the right to remain silent and you should exercise that right. Do not speak to investigators without your attorney present. Anything you say can be used against you, even if you think you have nothing to hide. Be polite but firm that your attorney will handle communication going forward. Never lie or mislead investigators, but you have no obligation to provide any information that may be self-incriminating. Let your lawyer do the talking.
Gather and Preserve Documents
Work with your attorney to gather any documents, records, emails, texts, etc that may be relevant to the investigation. Your attorney can then review the documents to understand the scope of the inquiry and identify any exculpatory evidence. Preserving documents also prevents any appearance that you are trying to hide anything. Never destroy or delete any records once you know about the investigation, as that itself can be a criminal act.
Understand the Scope of the Investigation
Find out from your attorney the exact nature of the investigation, which agency is involved (SEC, FBI, IRS, etc), what activities or time periods are under scrutiny, and what specific laws you may have violated. This allows you and your lawyer to focus defenses and counterarguments on the most relevant issues. The scope may be wider than you initially believe, so don’t assume anything.
Be Cautious of Others Involved
If the investigation involves activities within a business, be cautious of partners, employees or others who may try to implicate you to help themselves. Do not discuss the case with them without your attorney present, as they could be cooperating. Let your lawyer deal with them and assess their trustworthiness.
Begin Reconstructing Timelines and Events
Work with your attorney to reconstruct timelines, meetings, emails, documents and other events related to the investigation. Identify witnesses, alibis, or evidence that refutes allegations. This exercise may also jog your memory on relevant details. Thoroughly review all relevant business dealings related to the inquiry.
Assess Your Finances and Assets
Your lawyer can advise you on financial strategies to protect assets in case of heavy fines, penalties or restitution down the road. Be proactive about assessing your finances, properties, accounts and other holdings that could be affected if things progress.
Don’t Try to Hide Assets or Leave the Country
It may be tempting to transfer assets to others or leave the country to avoid consequences, but doing so will only create bigger problems. Any attempt to hide assets or flee will be treated as an admission of guilt and can lead to criminal charges of obstruction of justice. Face the music and let your lawyer defend you.
Expect Your Life to Be Disrupted
Cooperating with an investigation will take up significant time, energy and focus. You may need to take leave from work, answer questions, provide records, etc. Recognize that your daily life will be disrupted and mentally prepare for the long road ahead. Don’t lose patience or temper.
Take Care of Yourself
The stress of being under investigation can take a severe mental and physical toll. Make sure to eat well, exercise, and get enough rest during the process. Don’t turn to alcohol or drugs as coping mechanisms. Confide in loved ones for moral support if needed. Take care of your health as you navigate the case.
Trust Your Attorney’s Advice
Your lawyer has your best interests at heart and specialized expertise in defending these cases. If they recommend a certain strategy or action, trust their judgment. They have your freedom and future as their top priority. Follow their advice to maximize your chances of the best possible outcome.
Dealing with a white collar criminal investigation can be daunting, but taking the right steps early on can pay huge dividends down the road. Retain experienced counsel immediately, keep quiet without your lawyer present, gather and preserve relevant records, understand the scope of inquiry, begin reconstructing timelines, assess your finances, take care of your health, and above all – trust your attorney’s guidance during the process. With the right legal representation and proactive stance, you can successfully navigate the investigation and protect yourself. Don’t go it alone – your future is at stake.