The phrase white-collar crime refers to an assortment of different financial and professional criminal offenses. From investment fraud and embezzlement to money laundering, white-collar crimes generally are non-violent. Instead, they’re concerned with the misappropriation of financial resources. People may, therefore, wrongfully assume that white-collar criminal charges are not particularly serious. However, an investigation could lead to very serious criminal charges in New York or possibly even in federal court.
Those who discover that they are subject to an investigation for white-collar crimes need to respond proactively or risk facing severe consequences should prosecutors follow through with charges that result in a conviction. What should someone do when they learn about a white-collar investigation concerned with their personal or professional activities?
Talk to an attorney
One of the most important steps for someone at elevated risk of criminal prosecution will be to learn about the law and their rights. The best way to achieve that goal is to work with a criminal defense attorney. A lawyer can educate someone about what rights they have when interacting with law enforcement professionals or federal investigators. Lawyers can also help people evaluate the situation to determine what charges and therefore what penalties they would likely face. An attorney can also help begin the process of developing a defense strategy, possibly by bringing in outside professionals like forensic accountants to help someone counter the claims that the state makes about someone’s professional or financial activities.
Avoid incriminating activities
Some people who learn about a criminal investigation become so panicked that they take steps that end up implicating them. From the manipulation or removal of certain financial records at work to the decision to move personal assets into storage, there are many knee-jerk responses that people have to a white color criminal investigation that can make them look suspicious to law enforcement professionals or that could help the state build a case against them in court later. Avoiding suspicious behavior and actions that could complicate someone’s legal situation, like altering business records or otherwise potentially manipulating what prosecutors would use as evidence, can protect people against the very real possibility of secondary charges or appearing guilty to the courts.
Learn about the risks of an investigation
Criminal investigations for white-collar crimes can be very embarrassing for the subject. Law enforcement officers may show up at their place of work or talk to their friends, family and neighbors. They may have to sit down with investigators to review financial records, and what they say during those meetings could potentially lead to other criminal charges, such as allegations of lying to federal investigators.
Taking thoughtful steps when learning about a federal investigation can make a major difference for a white-collar professional who is facing allegations of financial misconduct, as well as anyone else who may be facing an investigation related to possible wrongdoing.