Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Accused of a White Collar Crime

White-collar crime is often misunderstood as a less severe or dangerous form of criminal behavior. However, this is a false assumption. Those who violate laws related to the buying and selling of securities often face lengthy prison sentences and substantial fines. Typically, white-collar crimes involve violations of the Securities Exchange Act

It is vital that those who are accused of white-collar crimes avoid making mistakes that can increase their risk of facing criminal liability. Some of the most common mistakes can be avoided. Once you obtain legal representation, you can ask your Seattle white collar crimes attorney more questions about what you can do to enforce your legal rights. 

 Defining White Collar Crime

The term white-collar crime covers a broad array of criminal conduct. The legal concept of fraud is involved in many white-collar crimes. Essentially, white-collar crimes are those that occur when an individual or business organization acts fraudulently to achieve personal or financial gain. 

The following are some of the most common white-collar crimes prosecuted in the United States: 

  • Money laundering 
  • Bribery 
  • Embezzlement 
  • Corporate fraud 

These offenses are related to a range of behaviors. Corporate fraud occurs when an individual or business entity transgresses trade regulations or securities regulations. Embezzlement is a crime involving a person in a position of trust who converts that money for their own use. An individual is charged with bribery when they attempt to influence a government official by providing them with gifts. Lastly, money laundering is the act of transferring money from a criminal organization to a legitimate business. 

 Mistake #1: Ignoring the Seriousness of the Accusations

Those who are charged with white-collar crimes are often unfamiliar with criminal law. However, any person charged with a white-collar crime must comprehend the gravity of the situation. Individuals who are convicted of white-collar crimes face a diverse range of consequences, including substantial fines, prison time, loss of a professional license, and the loss of their reputation in the community in which they live. 

These consequences may affect a convict for the rest of their life. It is absolutely essential that you take any accusation of a white-collar offense seriously and that you do not think you will be given leniency due to your education or status in your field. 

Mistake #2: Overlooking the Impact of Evidence

Accused individuals often overlook the significance of documentary and digital evidence in white-collar crime cases. Financial transactions and communications leave extensive trails that can be used against you in court. Modern forensic technologies can uncover and analyze data you might think is hidden or deleted. Attempting to destroy or tamper with evidence can lead to further charges. It’s crucial to understand that all forms of communication and transaction are subject to scrutiny and to be transparent with your legal team about all potential evidence.

Mistake #3: Ignoring the Threat of Whistleblowers and Informants

Many do not fully appreciate the role that whistleblowers and informants can play in white-collar crime investigations. Insider information, often provided by employees or former employees, can be a key factor in initiating or advancing legal actions against you. Programs like the SEC’s whistleblower initiative offer incentives for individuals to report illegal activities, increasing the risk of being reported. Underestimating the impact of such informants can leave you unprepared for the evidence and testimonies they may bring forward.

Mistake #4: Volunteering Information Without Legal Counsel

You do not have to inform law enforcement officers of any details regarding your conduct. The case of Miranda v. Arizona created the rule that criminal defendants must be informed of their constitutional rights before being interrogated, or their oral statements could not be admitted as evidence at trial. Therefore, you do not have to volunteer information to any law enforcement official or any other person regarding the accusations you are facing. 

Mistake #5: Failing to Engage Legal Counsel

Any person accused of a white-collar crime needs to obtain legal representation as soon as possible. Attempting to face criminal charges without the assistance of counsel is a self-destructive act. An experienced white-collar criminal lawyer will be able to help you navigate the complexities of the system while doing everything in their power to enforce your legal rights. 

Do not hesitate to reach out to a white-collar criminal attorney in Seattle. You do not have to face the daunting task of defending yourself without a lawyer by your side. The sooner you retain legal counsel, the sooner you will be able to develop a sound case strategy. Although you may not have been charged with a criminal offense, you should not proceed with any action that may affect your legal rights until you speak to a criminal defense attorney in Seattle.