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GOVERNMENT INVESTIGATIONS

AND WHITE COLLAR DEFENSE

Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer in Raleigh, NC

The idea of a federal criminal prosecution for business owners, executives, and employees is terrifying. Reputations can be destroyed, livelihoods can be lost, assets can be depleted, and worst of all, prison can be a real possibility. If you have reason to be concerned, don’t take chances, and contact one of our white collar criminal defense attorneys right away. While we are located in Raleigh, we represent clients accused of federal crimes everywhere in North Carolina. Contact one of our criminal defense lawyers today to discuss your case.

Blue LLP’s criminal defense lawyers are experienced, tested, and have represented clients at every stage of the federal criminal process. Whether you need help with allegations of health care fraud (including Medicaid/Medicare fraud), antitrust claims, or the False Claims Act, we have a wealth of experience and a proven track record to show for it. Our criminal defense lawyers have handled complex criminal cases involving multiple parties, witnesses, and tens of thousands of pages of documents.

WE REPRESENT CLIENTS IN FEDERAL CASES ANYWHERE IN NORTH CAROLINA

As criminal defense attorneys, we have represented clients in white collar prosecutions, investigations, and regulatory enforcement actions brought by the U.S. Department of Justice, the North Carolina (and other states’) Attorney General, the Federal Trade Commission, and multiple state regulators. As a result, our federal defense lawyers in Raleigh have the experience to handle complex prosecutions that involve several defendants and claims.

Our approach, as criminal defense lawyers, is to prepare every case as though it were going to trial. We critically examine the government’s evidence so that we can advise our clients to make decisions that are in their best interest.

We understand the fears that any person facing a federal white collar investigation may face. The most immediate is always what the outcome could might be. If convicted, prison, fines, and asset forfeiture are just some of the potential consequences.

What Should I Do if I am Contacted by an investigator or in-house counsel?

Someone can easily be in the midst of a federal criminal investigation and not be aware of it. Anyone from corporate counsel to investigators may try to learn whether an individual is willing to share information that incriminates that person, the company, or someone else. For these reasons, anyone approached by an investigator or corporate counsel should, at the very minimum, consult a criminal defense attorney who has experience with white collar cases and federal crimes.

Conversations with corporate counsel have to be handled delicately. Although the company’s in-house lawyer might seem like just another co-worker, his or her client is the company itself and not the employee. This means that the company can waive the attorney-client privilege and divulge anything the employee says to the attorney. Therefore, prudent executives and employees should consult with their own white collar criminal defense attorney to advise them on whether and how to communicate with the company’s lawyer.

Likewise, anyone should exercise extreme caution if approached by an investigator. Suspects in criminal investigations are not under any legal obligation to talk to law enforcement. Additionally, lying to law enforcement is a criminal offense that is frequently prosecuted. As the saying goes, it’s not the crime, it’s the coverup.

If you need an experienced and skilled North Carolina criminal defense attorney, don’t wait until it’s too late. Contact one of our federal defense lawyers in Raleigh today.

HOW DOES A PROSECUTION BEGIN

Criminal Complaint.  One way is for a law enforcement agent to file a criminal complaint. A criminal complaint is a sworn statement by a law enforcement officer that accuses a suspect of breaking a federal law. The sworn statement is presented to a federal judge who, upon making a preliminary finding of probable cause, issues a warrant for the suspect’s arrest. If the suspect has not done so already, he or she should hire a criminal defense lawyer who has federal experience.

Indictment. Another way to begin a federal criminal case involves the return of an indictment by a grand jury. The grand jury meets in secret and reviews evidence. If it determines that there is probable cause that a federal crime has occurred and the accused person committed it, it will return an indictment.

Information.  A third way involves the negotiation of a plea agreement before a criminal complaint is sworn or indictment is returned. In these instances, a defendant usually hires (or is appointed) counsel after receiving a target letter, agrees to the allegations contained within a charging document called an information, and enters a guilty plea at an arraignment.

What happens if I am arrested on federal charges?

When someone is arrested (or surrenders) in a federal criminal case, he or she is brought before a federal Magistrate judge for an initial appearance. At the initial appearance, the Magistrate will advise the defendant of the charges, possible penalties (including imprisonment), and certain rights, including the right to counsel.

When a defendant first appears, the Magistrate judge can order (1) the release on personal recognizance or an unsecured bond, (2) release subject to certain conditions imposed by the judge, (3) temporary detention of the defendant to permit deportation, exclusion, or the revocation of a previous order of conditional release, or (4) temporary detention of the defendant pending the outcome of a detention hearing.

In most federal cases that involve crimes of violence, terrorism, drug charges that can be punished by a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years or more, recidivist criminal conduct, crimes punishable by life imprisonment (or the death penalty), or other serious felonies, the federal government, represented by an Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA), will ask the Magistrate to enter a temporary order for the defendant’s detention. Such orders are routinely granted. The Magistrate judge also has the authority to order temporary detention for these types of cases. Additionally, for these cases, there typically is a rebuttable presumption that no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the defendant’s appearance and the safety of the community.

In other types cases, such as those involving non-violent white-collar offenses, the government will seek detention if there is a risk that the defendant will flee the jurisdiction or will obstruct or attempt to obstruct justice by injuring or threatening a witness.

Detention Hearing

After an order of temporary detention, the court will schedule a full detention hearing. The purpose of the hearing is for the Magistrate to determine whether any condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the appearance of the defendant at the proceedings as well as the safety of any other person and the community.

At the hearing, the defendant has the right to be represented by counsel, the right to testify (though typically not advisable), the right to present witnesses on his behalf, the right to cross-examine the government’s witnesses, and the right to present any other relevant information by proffer, i.e. a showing by the criminal defense attorney.

Excluding the most serious cases, the government has the burden of producing evidence that the defendant should be detained. In any event, once the burden shifts to the defendant (either through a presumption or the government satisfying its own burden of production), the defendant may produce credible evidence demonstrating the reasonable assurance of appearance and/or that the defendant is not a danger to the community.

In many cases, defendants frequently rebut the presumption through the testimony of third party custodians. A third party custodian is someone with whom the defendant will live while he or she awaits resolution of the case. If the Magistrate judge agrees to release the defendant pursuant to specific conditions, the custodian must be willing to inform a probation officer if the defendant violates the terms of release.

A custodian who does not have a serious criminal record, was not involved in (or otherwise have knowledge of) the alleged criminal conduct, and can be sufficiently present in the home to monitor the defendant’s daily activities often is found to be a suitable candidate. As such, anyone who suspects imminent indictment or arrest on federal charges should immediately identify a handful of candidates who might be suitable third party custodians.  

The benefit of identifying a candidate early is that both the defendant’s attorney and the probation officer can interview the person before the detention hearing to confirm his or her suitability. Additionally, if the probation officer determines that the person is suitable, the officer will state as much in the pre-trial services report that is provided to the Magistrate judge prior to the hearing.

Although the disclosure of a suitable third party custodian is sufficient to rebut the presumption or other evidence that detention is appropriate, the government still can persuade the Magistrate judge that the defendant is a flight risk and/or danger to the community. This determination often comes down to a number of factors the judge will consider, particularly the history and characteristics of the defendant (including his or her criminal record and whether there is a history of absconding), and the nature of the charged criminal offense (release is far less likely in violent crimes, serious drug trafficking offenses, or cases in which the defendant has very limited ties to the district).

A defendant and his or her family should be aware that the detention hearing is not a trial of the case. It is limited in scope and only a fraction of the government’s evidence is disclosed. Nonetheless, while defense counsel’s primary objective is to secure the release of the client, in cases in which release is not realistic, the hearing  still can provide an early opportunity to learn about the alleged facts of the case.

Whatever the case may be, if you believe that a federal criminal prosecution is imminent for yourself or a family member, contact one of our experienced federal defense lawyers immediately. If you cannot afford to hire an attorney, contact the federal public defender in your district.

We Have Helped Clients Avoid Prosecution or Prison in White Collar Cases

  • Represented the owner-practitioner of a behavioral health care company in a years-long Medicaid fraud investigation. The investigation was terminated without criminal prosecution.
  • Represented an owner-physician in a False Claims Act and Medicare / Medicaid fraud investigation. We negotiated a civil settlement on our client’s behalf and avoided criminal prosecution.
  • Represented a U.S. Postal Service employee after he was indicted on federal charges for embezzlement and conspiracy to use the mail to distribute a controlled substance. Negotiated a probationary sentence resulting in no prison.
  • Represented an individual accused of conspiring to smuggle contraband cigarettes by failing to pay excise taxes. We negotiated a probationary sentence.
  • Represented the owner of a family restaurant business accused of willful failure to pay payroll taxes. We negotiated a probationary sentence.

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