White-collar crime is a complex area of the law usually involving deceit or fraud in a financial context. While white-collar crime is nonviolent, it can result in both civil litigation and criminal charges. Penalties include heavy fines, jail time, and the loss of professional licenses, not to mention damage to you or your organization’s reputation. Finding the right white-collar crime lawyer can make the difference between a conviction and a case that is dropped, dismissed, or acquitted.
What Types of Cases Can a White-Collar Defense Lawyer Handle?
Financial crimes involve complex government regulations and statutes, making them fundamentally different from violent crime, larceny, traffic offenses, and other acts that can incur criminal charges. If your charges pertain to any of the following areas, you should select a lawyer with extensive expertise in defending clients against white-collar crime charges:
- Financial crimes
- Anti-trust violations
- Cyber crimes
- Mortgage fraud
- Healthcare fraud
- Copyright violations
How to Choose the Best White-Collar Crime Lawyer
Look Into the Firm’s Track Record
A lawyer’s past successes can say a lot about his or her future performance. When you are vetting lawyers, take a look at what their previous clients have to say in Google reviews and on Yelp. You can also ask the firm for some referrals directly.
In addition to checking the track record of an individual lawyer, you should look into whether or not the firm is reputable. Established firms that are in good standing within their communities can often engage valuable resources from their network, including forensic accountants, economists, and other experts who might be helpful for your case.
Find Out If the Lawyer Has Argued Cases Similar to Yours
Even within the white-collar crimes niche, there are vast differences between the types of cases that can be argued. For example, a tax evasion case will involve different federal statutes and state regulations than a healthcare fraud case. When you are choosing a Houston white-collar crimes lawyer, try to find one that has handled cases in your particular area of white-collar crime.
A lawyer with experience that is relevant to your case will be able to more accurately predict the outcomes of the various defense strategies available to you and build your case according to the tactics he or she feels are most likely to be successful.
Ask If the Lawyer Is Willing to Take Your Case to Trial
Some lawyers focus on settling cases quickly to maximize their volume and increase their own financial gain. However, settling outside of court is not always in a client’s best interests. Lawyers who are known for their willingness to take a case to trial can negotiate with the other side more aggressively. Working with a lawyer who has a strong record of successful litigation doesn’t necessarily mean you will need to go to trial, but it does give your arguments more punch.
Ask Who You Will Be Working With at the Law Firm
When you go to a consultation with a lawyer, you should find out who else will be responsible for aspects of your case. Generally, it is a good idea to choose a lawyer who can handle a large percentage of the correspondence with you personally. However, most lawyers work with legal assistants and other firm employees. You should check to ensure that all of these individuals are qualified and present a professional demeanor.
Assess the Lawyer’s Communication Skills
Sometimes, finding the best lawyer for your case is a matter of comparing individual communication styles. White-collar crime cases usually require a lawyer to dig deep into your finances, gather intricate information about your role within your organization, and inquire about the regulations that apply to your job. Your case will go more efficiently if you choose a lawyer who you can communicate with easily.
Ask for a Transparent Disclosure of Legal Fees and an Honest Assessment of Your Case
During the consultation, a qualified lawyer will ask questions that can help him or her understand the essential details of your case. In an embezzlement case, for example, the lawyer might ask how you had access to the funds in question and whether or not you know of a paper trail that could be used as evidence against you.
The meeting should conclude with a candid conversation about the firm’s legal fees and the possible outcomes for your case. You can use the end of the consultation as an opportunity to get a sense of what defense strategies the lawyer might use to represent you, and whether or not you are confident in his or her approach.
White collar crimes often involve government regulations that contradict one another, violations of legal protocols on the part of government agents, and a lack of sufficient evidence to secure a conviction. Working with a well-chosen white-collar crimes attorney puts a number of viable defense strategies at your disposal, increasing the chances that you will avoid fines and jail time.