If you’re facing white collar criminal charges, you probably have a lot of questions and concerns. Law enforcement officers can unexpectedly barge into your life and accuse you of criminal acts. Depending on how the investigation proceeds, you may end up facing serious charges in state or federal court.

Our law firm is committed to providing timely and thorough information to our clients from the start of their legal troubles until they are resolved. For your reference, we have provided answers to several common questions about white collar crimes below.

For more information, contact Marcilliat & Mills PLLC. Our lawyers have decades of criminal defense experience – including experience handling high-stakes white collar crime charges (and investigations) at the state and federal levels.

What To Expect If You Are Charged With A White Collar Crime

We’ve all heard of white collar crime, but not everyone knows exactly what kinds of charges constitute a white collar offense. While “white collar crime” is not an official category in any state or federal statute, it is a convenient shorthand to describe a wide range of crimes that are nonviolent and financially motivated, usually committed by one or more professionals taking advantage of their position within a business, non-profit organization or government agency. In some states, a person can be charged with “aggravated” white collar crime when the alleged crime has resulted in a victim losing significant amounts of money (i.e., $100,000 or more), or if the alleged offender is convicted of two or more felonies.

Some of the most common white collar crimes include:

  • Money laundering
  • Tax evasion
  • Embezzlement
  • Mail and wire fraud
  • Identity theft
  • Other forms of fraud

What all of these crimes have in common is that they deliver a financial gain to the perpetrator, but the commission of these crimes is often nearly invisible. Unlike smashing a window or assaulting someone, there is very little action to see as these crimes are conducted. Often the evidence of a white collar crime is only apparent through a thorough analysis of financial records, which often requires a lengthy investigation, multiple search warrants and a concerted effort by law enforcement.

How These Cases Proceed

When you’re charged with a white collar crime, what happens next depends on the nature of the allegation as well as choices made by law enforcement officers and prosecutors. In some cases, state or federal agents will arrest a suspect at work in front of his or her colleagues, adding public embarrassment to the inherent stress of facing a criminal charge. But one thing is certain: white collar crime charges carry serious consequences, and they can have a lifelong impact on your freedom, privileges, reputation and future.

Depending on whether the white collar crime violates North Carolina or federal statues, and whether the alleged crime has a multistate impact, you may face charges in state or federal court. Either way, you need a criminal defense lawyer with experience handling both state and federal crimes.

Strategies For A Successful Defense

In a white collar case, as in all criminal cases, the prosecution bears the burden of proof. For most white collar crimes, this means proving that it was committed intentionally, with the knowledge that it was illegal, and through actions that the defendant disguised and concealed.

Unlike many other crimes, however, a defendant may be aware of a pending white collar crime investigation for weeks or months before charges are pursued. This can be stressful, but it also provides an advantage: You’ll have more time to prepare a strong defense. With the right strategy, you could perhaps even prevent charges in the first place.

At Marcilliat & Mills PLLC, our lawyers frequently get involved in these cases before charges are filed. We know how to identify strategies that mitigate the impact of the allegations. We have successfully prevented charges in numerous high-stakes cases.

What Are Your Options When You’re Facing Allegations Of A White Collar Crime?

Once you’ve been charged with a white collar crime, there’s no getting around the fact that you will have to navigate the criminal justice system. So the first and most important question to ask yourself is: what kind of legal guidance will you rely on?

Technically, our legal system allows almost anyone to represent himself or herself in court. But unless you happen to be a lawyer, this option will almost certainly not lead to the best possible outcome in your case. A strong defense requires a thorough understanding of the law.

That’s why your best option is to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney in North Carolina at a private law firm. Because charges such as money laundering, tax evasion and fraud carry serious penalties such as massive fines and years in prison, the stakes are simply too high to take your chances on any form of representation other than retaining private counsel dedicated to thoroughly researching your case and standing up for your rights in and out of court.

When To Hire An Attorney

In addition to whom you pick to represent you in court, it’s also important to think about when is the right time to hire an attorney. In short, the answer is: as soon as possible.

Many people make the mistake of waiting until criminal charges are officially filed by state or federal law enforcement agencies, but that means you may be wasting precious weeks or months that could be used to prepare the strongest possible strategy for your defense. In addition, you may have missed out on a powerful opportunity to prevent charges in the first place.

If aren’t sure whether you need a lawyer, you almost certainly do need one.

Police and prosecutors can take a long time to gather evidence and conduct interviews before suddenly swooping in make an arrest.

Don’t Make This Mistake

If you are under investigation – and even if you have simply been asked to submit to questioning – you should hire an attorney as soon as possible. Each step in an investigation, even when the questioning seems casual and friendly, is an opportunity for you to accidentally incriminate yourself or create the false impression that you were involved in a crime you of which you had no knowledge.

What’s more, if you’re facing questioning by federal authorities, you could end up in trouble for misstatements. Making false statements to federal investigators is a serious offense. Celebrities like Martha Stewart are far from the only ones who end up facing these charges for saying the wrong things to federal law enforcement.

Under no circumstances should you speak to law enforcement officers without an attorney present.

At Marcilliat & Mills PLLC, our criminal defense lawyers can help you determine when and whether it’s necessary to speak with law enforcement. We can help you provide clear, precise and nonincriminating answers to questions posed by investigators and prosecutors. And when you get us involved early in the process, we can help shape the course of the investigation itself, avoiding needless interruptions and embarrassments like a workplace arrest.

When it’s early in the legal process, you may not yet know whether you will face charges at all, or whether they may snowball into state and federal charges. So it’s important to keep in mind that many criminal defense attorneys in North Carolina only practice in state courts. To proceed smoothly, no matter what court your case ends up in, it’s useful to choose a legal team such as Marcilliat & Mills PLLC that has significant experience in both state and federal defense.

Hiring A White Collar Defense Attorney Vs. Representing Yourself

The benefits of skilled legal representation are self-explanatory – trained legal professionals obtain drastically better results in criminal proceedings than defendants representing themselves, and that’s especially true for a law firm with a long and successful track record. Nonetheless, some people still choose to forgo professional legal representation because they are worried about the cost.

Concerns about legal fees are understandable, but it’s important to consider them in the broader context of the criminal charges you are facing. The sentences for white collar crime have the potential to be severe, from steep fines to months or years in prison during which you will be prevented from making a living to support yourself or your family. Your reputation and employment prospects may be permanently ruined.

Given the high stakes that come with an alleged crime, the truth is that you can’t afford NOT to hire the best possible criminal defense attorney you can find.

How To Choose The Right Defense Attorney

Choosing a lawyer can be stressful, but it’s a little easier if you know in advance what you’re looking for. The most important thing is to find an attorney you can trust – a trust that is earned through a successful record in court, a close attention to detail, empathy for the situation you’re facing, knowledge of the law, and, above all, experience handling the types of charges you’re facing. Once you’ve done some basic online research about the firms in your area, the next step is to schedule an initial consultation and meet with your potential lawyer in person. This is an excellent opportunity to get a read on a lawyer’s experience and professionalism, and to learn more about your legal options in your current situation.

Of course, your initial consultation is also an opportunity to discuss rates and fees. The total cost of legal representation will depend greatly on the details of your case, such as the charges you are facing, the amounts of time involved, the strength of your case and many other factors. It’s not possible to summarize all these factors in a useful way on a page meant for all potential clients.

At Marcilliat & Mills PLLC, we will speak with you frankly and openly about the potential cost of our services once we have a clear sense of your legal needs. Contact us to discuss your situation.

We Will Go The Extra Mile

Our criminal defense attorneys do much more than simply show up with you at court. When you work with us, you will get a tireless advocate on your side – an attorney who will anticipate your legal needs and work proactively to help you obtain the best outcome available in your case.

The sooner you hire a lawyer, the stronger your position will be by the time you attend your criminal trial, if one is necessary.

We will walk you through every step of the legal process: from initial questioning with law enforcement, to plea negotiations, and to trial, if necessary. You can count on us to answer your questions and provide the counsel you need to make informed decisions and mount the strongest possible defense.

Get started by filling out our online contact form or calling our firm at 919-838-6643. Based in Raleigh and Charlotte, we also have offices in Wilmington, Greensboro and Union County, North Carolina.

View Our White Paper - The Numbers Count - Fraud and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines