Preparing a defense for a white collar crime is about uncovering every possible piece of evidence, whether good or bad, and about learning how to use evidence that might be perceived as bad in your favor. With this in mind, an experienced Atlanta white collar criminal lawyer is imperative as they will know the basics of general criminal law at the State level and the Federal level as well, thereby helping your chances to get a favorable result.
One of the first steps in preparing a defense against white collar crime is the gathering of information. This involves communication with the investigator to ascertain if that investigator will offer information about the investigation into the client. This information can provide insight into what the State’s position is and what they are looking to do.
If this information is obtained before charges or arrests have been filed, the defense can determine what allegations the defendant is facing and whether or not they have evidence for probable cause to arrest or to initiate a set of charges against you.
Generally, investigators are reluctant to disclose such information, but they know that they have to divulge a little bit if they want to open a line of communication between a defense attorney and his client, where they can go to listen or go to talk with investigators about what they have.
Beyond the initial contact with the investigator, a good defense is about building a case from the ground up, including: interviewing witnesses, gathering financial transaction information and trying to understand how something that might have seemed legitimate is now being perceived as criminal by a law enforcement agency or a prosecutor. As defense attorneys, we want to understand the case from the prosecution’s perspective so that we can begin to build our defense. This amounts to finding the cracks in their case – so that we can blow a hole in the prosecution’s case and create an avenue to reasonable doubt and lead to the best possible outcome for our client.
There are a wide range of circumstances where prosecutors are willing to offer a plea deal, which often equates to reduced charges or sentences. Plea negotiations often involve the maximum charge or sentence being reduced, because a trial is avoided and the prosecution does not have to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Some alternative circumstances might arise if the client has a special knowledge of something else, something unrelated to the charges our client is facing. Perhaps the client is being charged with a white collar crime, but has knowledge of something related to narcotic sales or drugs. Perhaps our client has knowledge about a more serious crime, and we can testify in exchange for a reduced sentence or a lighter sentence.
Initially and throughout the case, attorney/client communication is critical. During interviews an attorney will ask questions to find out if our clients have knowledge or have something that the prosecution might be interested in. The defense needs to be able to convey that hint of information to entice the prosecutor or their investigators. Often the police or the FBI will be interested in working with us to give us a benefit for working with them, including cooperating and providing information, providing testimony, providing physical evidence of crimes. Oftentimes, more serious crimes or crimes of a different nature that are being committed by others can result in alternative plea deals and reduce sentences; outside of the normal negotiations that go on between defense counsel and the prosecution when negotiating pre-trial plea offers.
When hiring an attorney for a white collar criminal case it is important to consider the experience of the attorney and how many similar types of cases they have handled. Retaining an attorney with the knowledge and experience in handling your particular white collar case may be the difference between not guilty and guilty, between jail time and no jail time, and the difference between a huge burden on your life and no burden at all.