Federal financial crimes can be a variety of offenses involving the misuse of money or allegations of fraud. Types of federal financial crimes that have been investigated in Charleston include fraud, money laundering, or theft. These allegations are serious and, if convicted, can lead to significant jail time. It is important for those accused of these crimes to know their rights throughout the various stages of their investigation.
One of the most important rights a person accused of a federal crime should exercise is their right to an attorney. Residents in Charleston who are charged for financial crimes, or who suspect they may be under investigation, should take full advantage of their right to legal counsel. A lawyer who understands the government processes and tactics involved in Charleston federal financial crime investigations may be able to protect individuals even before an official investigation begins.
Signs of an Impending Investigation
The U.S. Attorney’s Office provides oversight of federal financial crime allegations. If the federal government begins a formal investigation of someone in Charleston, that person may receive a “subject letter” or “target letter” with an invitation to be interviewed. However, there is nothing preventing case agents from attempting to gain information on subjects before an official investigation has been opened.
If someone suspects that they may be under investigation for a federal financial crime, there are several tactics they should be aware of prior to speaking with government agents. Investigating agencies can subpoena bank records or check safety deposit boxes and instruct the bank not to notify the owner of the account. In this way, federal agencies can gain significant information on a subject before they are even aware that they are under investigation.
Responding to Federal Investigation Agents in a Financial Crime Case
Once an investigation officially begins, people who are contacted for interviews must decide if they wish to cooperate and how much information they are willing to give. The Fifth Amendment allows individuals under investigation the right to remain silent concerning alleged criminal activity. While one should be discerning when deciding what information to offer, it is a good idea to hire a lawyer to respond promptly to any letters or contact from investigative agents.
By having a lawyer to communicate early with the government agency, a person may be able to find out whether they are the target of the investigation or whether they are viewed as a witness. With the advice of a skilled attorney, the recipient of a subject or target letter may be able to preempt a full investigation and determine how the government is approaching their case. There are many questions which may guide the attorney–have they already decided to indict and are just looking for more information, or are they open to an explanation of innocence? This information, which may be discreetly obtained by a savvy legal professional, is crucial for individuals who are being accused of a financial crime.
Retaining legal counsel and exercising caution when speaking with agents are good steps to take in the opening stages of a federal investigation. Lying during an investigation constitutes a criminal offense, but even an honest answer could lead to criminal charges. Any information that a subject of investigation gives could be used against them, so it is important to contact a local attorney to mitigate the risks involved in speaking with federal agents.
Possible Outcomes of a Federal Financial Crimes Investigation
A Charleston defense lawyer could also help those accused of financial crimes to understand the likelihood of all possible outcomes of their case. While federal investigations may result in formal charges, there are ways of avoiding trial. With legal guidance, the accused could understand all available options and decide which to pursue based on their best interests.
Negotiating a Settlement
In some situations, an attorney can negotiate a settlement to avoid prosecution during the investigation phase or after charges have been filed. If a person has relevant information, there may be a way to reach a non-prosecution agreement in exchange for cooperating with the government and promising to assist them with the rest of the investigation.
Settlements are often used to minimize damage, especially if a person does not think they have a good defense for trial. Negotiating a settlement may also allow a person to continue on with their life and protect their or their company’s image. Even if a person is eventually acquitted, charges of any financial crime are rarely beneficial for public perception.
Going to Trial
The benefit of going to trial for a federal financial crime is that it is the only way to be publicly found not . Those who choose to stand trial believe in their innocence and believe their lawyer and witnesses can convince 12 jurors of that fact. A federal trial is a chance to completely clear one’s name of any allegations.
However, there are also significant risks of going to trial. Jurors and their personal stances are unpredictable, and a valid explanation from a polished attorney may not hold up in court. Those who go to trial put their fate in the jurors’ hands, and despite a rigorous legal system designed to uphold justice, the court does not always get it right. Those considering trial for financial crimes need the support of an experienced attorney in their community to help build the strongest possible defense.
Speak with a Charleston Attorney in Federal Financial Crime Investigations
The burden of proving a financial crime is on the government, and in a technical sense those being investigated do not have to defend themselves. Still, it is probably foolish to leave such a serious matter to chance. Speaking with agents without legal representation can put you or your company at risk of potentially making a bad situation worse. An experienced lawyer could handle communications between their client and the investigating federal agency. If you have received notice of a federal financial crime investigation in Charleston, contact an attorney today.