Answers To Frequently Asked White Collar Criminal Defense Questions
People who are charged with a federal white collar crime may have many questions and about the federal criminal process. The Law Office of Ann Fitz find answers to client questions and defends their rights. On this page, the firm has compiled a few of the frequently asked questions and answer related to white collar criminal charges:
Does the government consider me a target, a subject, or merely a witness in a federal investigation?
The way the government views your role in an investigation can have important implications on what you should do, so this is an important question for your attorney to answer.
I received a grand jury subpoena to testify and/or produce documents. What do I do?
If you have been subpoenaed to testify, it is important to understand what your rights are, and what you should do to protect those rights. If you have violated a federal crime law, you can protect yourself by asserting you Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Frequently, an attorney can reach out to the prosecutors on your behalf and provide them the information they need, relieving you from having to appear before a grand jury. An attorney can also advise you as to what documents you may have a right to withhold from production.
Should I speak with federal agents without the assistance of an attorney?
Even well-intentioned statements to federal agents can cause problems for a person’s federal criminal defense case. Communicating through or with the help of a criminal defense lawyer can prevent miscommunications and ensure that there are no compromises to your defense.
Why is intent so important in a white collar criminal case?
Intent plays a central role in white collar criminal prosecutions. In fact, it is usually a key element of the charged white collar offense - whether it is conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, securities fraud, health care fraud, falsifying books and records, insider trading, money laundering, or racketeering. Since charges related to white collar crimes do not require proof that you acted with force or threats of violence, prosecutors rely on proving your liability through criminal intent. If there is a legitimate reason that can be proven in your defense for why the criminal act was committed, thereby negating criminal intent, no crime has been committed.
What are the stages of a federal criminal case?
After a person is arrested and charged with a federal crime, they are brought before a magistrate judge for an initial hearing. In this hearing, the defendant will learn of their charges and can enter their plea. After entering a plea, the defendant may be able to post bail or they will go into the custody of U.S. Marshals.
Then discovery begins, and the defendant’s attorney can start the process of preparing their defense. The defense lawyer can review the evidence and interview witnesses. In some instances, the defendant may be able to get a plea bargain to avoid a trial and a more severe sentence. After discovery, the case then proceeds to a preliminary hearing, pre-trial motions and the trial itself. For a more in-depth explanation, please visit the federal criminal process page.
Even if a jury finds the defendant guilty at trial, they may be able to appeal their federal criminal conviction.
Should I accept a plea bargain?
Every case is different, and there is no universal answer to this question. More than 90 percent of federal criminal cases end in plea bargains. No matter the circumstances of your case, it is crucial that you fully know the consequences of taking a deal. You should speak with a knowledgeable defense attorney so that you understand what you will be admitting to, the sentencing guidelines and if you will waive your right to an appeal.
Can I appeal a federal court’s decision?
A federal criminal appeal is not a retrial; rather, it is a chance for you to explain to the appellate court why the trial court got your case wrong. There are several reasons why a person could receive a wrong verdict, including procedural errors, mistakes made by the judge or violations of their civil rights. The judges on the appellate court will review your argument and then determine if an appeal is right for your case.
There are strict deadlines to appeal a federal criminal case, so you should contact an attorney as soon as possible.