What Should You Do If You're Under Investigation For A White Collar Crime?

If you find out that you're under investigation for a white-collar crime, there are a few concrete steps you can. Most people who are investigated for a white-collar crime are the kinds of people who don't like to sit on their hands - this is good, there are some advantages to working proactively to address the situation.

And, if you aren't sure if you're under investigation, you can see this page on how people learn their under investigation for a white-collar crime.

First, hire a lawyer.

Look for a lawyer with substantial federal or white-collar experience. You don't want to be someone's training wheels. This isn't a good time to hire the guy who did your will, or your nephew who just graduated from law school.

Second, work with your lawyer to learn what's going on. You and your lawyer need to figure out two things - what's the government doing and what happened with the subject area under investigation.

If the government reached out to you, then you know that they have your name. You know that you have some status within the investigation. Your lawyer should reach out to the agent or the prosecutor who is working on the case. That way, your lawyer can learn what's going on with the government's investigation, and the government should know that you're represented by a lawyer. The agent should then talk to your lawyer instead of you.

If the government didn't reach out to you, then you'll have a slightly harder call. If you heard from your former business partner that she was served a subpoena, you may want to think with your lawyer about whether to reach out to the agent or prosecutor. Maybe you do, or maybe you don't. It depends on the situation and your lawyer can talk you through that decision.

Second, you need to work with your lawyer to collect information. Your lawyer should try to learn as much as he or she can about what happened. So, talk to your lawyer about how to collect any documents or emails that are relevant to the investigation. Have a conversation with your lawyer about what happened and what you know.

Perhaps others are already wrapped up in the same investigation and have lawyers - your lawyer can talk to them and perhaps learn about what happened or what the government is doing. How much information to share is sometimes a tricky call, and you and your lawyer can work together to make those decisions.

If you have a lawyer, you should let your lawyer do your talking for you. (And if you don't have a lawyer, see the first thing you should do on this list.) Don't call someone caught up in the investigation and spill your guts. Don't send a long email to your mother about what happened. Assume that everything you say about the investigation or about the government will get back to the prosecutor and the agent.

For more advice on what not to do if you're under investigation, please see this video on what not to do if you're under investigation.

Finally, get patient. Federal investigations can take a long time. As this page explains, the federal government has a long time to bring charges in a white-collar case.
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