White Collar Criminal Defense
White collar criminal defense is one of the firm’s core strengths. White collar, or business crime, involves complex procedures and requires different skills from other criminal cases. White collar cases are often similar to complex business disputes. Many times the firm represents individuals and corporations during an investigation by a government agency – before charges are filed. The goal is to investigate and develop information that would convince prosecutors never to bring charges. Our most successful defenses are those that no one ever hears about.
The government has tremendous resources, and sometimes the investigation stage can last years. White collar defense counsel have to know how to investigate a case, know when to cooperate, and when to refuse to cooperate.
White collar cases often start out with a complaint from an unsatisfied business associate or former employee. A federal agency will then begin an investigation. As the investigation proceeds, the agent may work closely with an Assistant United States Attorney who supervises and directs the investigation. The U.S. Attorney’s Office can then use Grand Jury subpoenas to collect information and compel witnesses to testify before the Grand Jury – a secret proceeding in which even the witness’s counsel cannot be present.
Ultimately, the prosecutor will decide whether to ask the Grand Jury to return an indictment. An indictment generally results in arrest, and the formal proceedings begin. One role for white collar defense counsel is to try to avoid a public and embarrassing arrest by negotiating a time for the defendant to appear to be processed. Next, counsel has to secure the client’s release pending trial. In federal cases, it is possible for the government to seek detention without bail pending trial.
Often a key part of the defense is to challenge the government’s legal theories. Sometimes that is done with pretrial motions, which are legal arguments that are presented to the judge and do not require a jury to decide.
Another major battle in a white collar case is often making sure that the government provides all of the information it is required to turn over that could be helpful or material to the preparation of the defense. The firm has been involved in several cases where convictions were reversed because the prosecution failed to disclose important evidence.
The penalties for white collar crime are generally based on the amount of money at issue – the “loss” calculations under the federal Sentencing Guidelines. There are different ways to calculate these figures, and counsel must understand the mechanics of the calculation and make sure to develop all evidence leading to the lowest figure possible.
Ritchie, Dillard, Davies & Johnson takes cases to trial. We have often worked with much larger firms in the investigation and preparation stages, but the lawyers at this firm know how to try a white collar criminal case in either federal or state court.