During the economic meltdown that started in 2008, there were a lot of individuals who were accused of engaging in fraud and other white collar crimes. In part because of the magnitude of the situation, the Justice Department did not prosecute every single one of these individuals for financial fraud. However, this in no way means that white collar prosecution is on the decline. If anything, it is on the increase. If you find yourself being accused by your employer of white collar crime, there are a few steps that you should take immediately to defend yourself.
Get Your Own Attorney
One of the biggest mistakes that people make is believing that the communication they have with their corporation’s attorney about their legal problems are privileged. But this is not entirely the case. The Supreme Court has made it very clear that communication between a company and their legal counsel are privileged, but this does not always extend to the employees. So when an executive is being accused of a white collar crime, the first thing they need to do is get their own attorney.
Employer Loyalty Is Not a Given
While executives may expect that their company will be loyal to them, history has shown time and time again that when the Justice Department puts pressure on businesses, they wave their attorney-client privilege and tell the government everything they want to know in hopes of saving the company.
Emails Last Forever
As recent news reports and congressional hearings have shown, what a person sends over email can last forever. Virtually every single email an individual sends is stored on a server for many years. In the case of a white-collar crime prosecution, these emails may become available to the government for years to come.
Even innocent emails that contain statements like, “we probably shouldn’t be talking about this over email” or “we are going to crush the competition” can come back years later and be twisted to look sinister. In white color cases, the government is not afraid to use emails with colorful words to make a person look like they have engaged in a serious crime. The bottom line is that prevention is worth a pound of cure. Matters should be discussed face-to-face or over the telephone. Assume every email you send could eventually come back to bite you.
Trust Your Instincts, Trust Your Lawyer
Top criminal defense lawyer J. Lee Webb encourages his clients to trust their instincts and remove themselves from any situation that seems like it is shady or that is just too good to be true. If a person is accused by their employer, it is best to not try to finagle their way out of the accusation, but instead to hire a lawyer, keep their mouth shut, and work with their lawyer to clear their name.
A white collar crime accusation can change a person’s life in negative ways. For this reason, it is essential that they take steps to protect themselves and their reputation.