White collar crimes now victimize more of us in the United States than all other forms of crime combined, but white collar crime cases can often take years to develop, so today’s newspaper headlines about white collar crimes may reflect events that have happened well in the past. In southern California or anywhere else in the United States, if you are suspected of committing a white collar crime and you are being investigated by state and/or federal law enforcement officials, if you think that you are being investigated, or if you’ve been arrested and charged with committing a white-collar crime, it’s imperative to retain the services of a good criminal defense lawyer as quickly as possible.
Embezzlement, fraud, identity theft, money laundering, and a number of other non-violent, financial crimes fall into the “white collar” crime classification. The most egregious white collar crimes can result in lengthy prison terms for those defendants who are convicted regardless of elder law. The white collar crime rate – especially for insurance fraud, healthcare fraud, and identity theft – is up substantially in recent years, and in their zeal to protect the public from white collar criminals, investigators may sometimes implicate the innocent. If you are charged with – or under investigation for – fraud, embezzlement, forgery, or any other white collar crime, consult a good criminal defense lawyer promptly, and in southern California, speak at once with an experienced Long Beach criminal defense attorney.
PROSECUTIONS ARE AGGRESSIVE
Both state and federal statutes govern white collar crime, and both individuals and corporations can be named as defendants in white collar criminal prosecutions. White collar crimes that are federal offenses include – but are by no means limited to – antitrust violations, computer and internet fraud, credit card fraud, bankruptcy fraud, healthcare and insurance fraud, tax evasion, securities fraud, insider trading, money laundering, embezzlement, counterfeiting, and trade secret theft. The federal government uses every tool at its disposal to prosecute defendants in white collar criminal cases. For example, in one white collar criminal prosecution in Tampa in 2015, federal prosecutors lined up nearly two hundred witnesses to testify against two defendants facing identity theft and fraud charges.
White collar crimes are not violent crimes, but that doesn’t make them victimless crimes. According to the FBI, white collar crime costs the United States more than $300 billion every year. The AARP says that Medicare fraud alone costs the nation $60 billion annually. The average haul in an armed bank robbery is $3,177, according to statistics from the FBI, but the Data Processing Management Association reports that the average computer crime loss to a bank may be as high as $500,000. A single white collar crime can ruin businesses, throw people out of work, devastate scores of families by erasing their savings, and cost investors billions of dollars in losses. A decade ago, for example, in the Enron case, Enron’s shareholders lost an estimated $74 billion. Today in California and around the nation, the criminal justice system treats white collar crime quite seriously for precisely those reasons. If you are being investigated – or if you believe that you are being investigated – for a white collar crime by federal and/or state law enforcement officials, you must take three important steps immediately to protect yourself.
STEP ONE: CONTACT A CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY
This first step that you must take is self-evident. As soon as you learn that you are the subject of a criminal investigation, contacting an experienced criminal defense attorney right away is genuinely the only wise option. Because white collar criminal suspects are typically non-violent suspects who thus pose little immediate risk to the public’s safety, white collar crime investigators often feel comfortable taking their time. Sometimes an investigation can drag on for months, and if you are the target of the investigation, it’s your future that’s at stake. You don’t have to endure that kind of long-term anxiety on your own. Let an attorney help.
An experienced criminal defense lawyer can step in on your behalf and may be able to expedite the investigation. It’s a situation where you’ll need an attorney who is also an experienced investigator and negotiator to protect your rights and to represent your interests. A good defense attorney can scrutinize the evidence against you and line up evidence and witnesses in your defense. Moreover, when you retain the services of an aggressive criminal defense attorney, that attorney may be able – in the best scenario – to “get in front” of the investigation, head off any charges before they are filed, and find a solution that’s agreeable to all sides of the case. If you are under investigation, contacting a good criminal defense lawyer as early as possible can save you money, time, and a great deal of unnecessary anxiety.
STEP TWO: PROTECT YOURSELF
Many white collar crime investigations plod along uneventfully for weeks or even months before any charges are filed. As one aspect of a white collar crime investigation, law enforcement investigators typically use that time to obtain warrants and to use those warrants to seize potential evidence. White collar crime investigators almost always want to see bank records, investment accounts, credit card accounts, and any additional financial accounts and information.
If you know that you are being investigated, speak at once with your attorney about the best way to protect your accounts and assets. You want to take all necessary legal steps swiftly to keep your accounts from being frozen and your resources from being seized by the government. If you don’t have access to your assets, and criminal charges are filed against you, your ability to defend yourself will be limited, so you need to act as quickly as you can and follow your attorney’s suggestions for protecting yourself. By reviewing all of the potential evidence with your attorney as early as possible, you can protect yourself, and you can help your attorney begin preparing your defense prior to charges being filed.
STEP THREE: EXERCISE YOUR MIRANDA RIGHTS
If you are under investigation – or if you find yourself under arrest – for a white collar crime or for any other crime anywhere in the United States, the most important thing to remember is this, and it cannot be said strongly enough: do not talk to any police officers, crime investigators, or prosecutors without having your own attorney at your side. Every person in the United States has “Miranda rights” that were established by the 1966 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Miranda v. Arizona. The courts now require law enforcement officers to explain your Miranda rights to you, but only after they have taken you into custody. Your Miranda rights, as you probably know, include the right to remain silent and the right to have an attorney present during any questioning.
What you may not realize, however, is that while you have your Miranda rights at all times, the police are only required to “read you your rights” when they’re placing you under arrest. It’s important to understand that if you have not been arrested, no “Miranda warning” or reading of your rights is required, and anything that you say can be used against you anyway. Investigators who are hoping to elicit incriminating statements from suspects sometimes delay making an arrest specifically so that they don’t have to give a Miranda warning. White collar crime investigators are not always “tough cops,” either. Many investigators are very friendly men and women who will smoothly try to convince you that they “only” want to hear your side of the story. Don’t fall for the “nice” approach. It’s a tactic. Anything you say to any investigator either before or after an arrest can be used against you. Always insist on your right to have an attorney present during questioning.
CONSIDER THE CONSEQUENCES
The ramifications of a white collar criminal conviction are not limited to the strictly criminal penalties. A conviction for a white-collar crime is almost inevitably followed by a civil lawsuit as the victim or victims take legal action to recover their losses. A conviction can also lead to the swift seizure of your bank accounts and even the forfeiture of your home. If you hold a professional license or accreditation, you can probably wave good-bye to it if you are convicted for committing a white collar crime. You’ll damage your family, lose the respect of friends and colleagues, and you’ll have a criminal record for the rest of your life.
If you are charged with committing a white-collar crime, don’t even think about going to court by yourself. Even if the charge is a misdemeanor, too much is at stake to take risks. Get the legal help you need if the charge is embezzlement, forgery, fraud, or another white collar crime, and discuss your case right away with a good criminal defense lawyer, and in southern California, with an experienced Long Beach criminal defense attorney. If a white-collar criminal charge is filed against you, you’ll need a defense lawyer who can immediately review your case, compile evidence on your behalf, interrogate witnesses, and develop an effective defense strategy. Do not try to act as your own attorney, do not answer questions from investigators without having your attorney present, and never plead guilty to any criminal charge before speaking with an experienced criminal defense attorney.