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Call the police at the first sign of trouble, or else! March 17, 2009

Posted by jefhenningeresq in My Cases.
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As an attorney, I have to wear many hats.  One of those hats is psychology professor.  I am always trying to figure out why people do one thing or the other.  I spend a lot of time trying to understand why people speak to the police without an attorney especially in white collar crime situations.  In a “street crime” situation, there is often only one interview/interrogation and it may be sudden.  Thus, the target may not have enough time to decide if they should call an attorney first.  I totally understand that situation.

What I have a problem understanding is the drawn out, white collar crime investigation.  For some people, it just never dawns on them to call an attorney to help them.  They may have weeks or even many months before the rug is finally pulled out from under them and thus, plenty of time to get an attorney or even just speak with one. Yet, they still just wing it and think that they are in control and can handle it by themselves.

My thoughts on all this come from a new case I have.  I was just amazed at all of the contact between the police and my client and the length of time that this all went on for.  I don’t want to get into all of the details, but trust me when I say that my client made the case much, much worse by dealing with the police and I don’t just say that because my client made a statement.  My client is actually charged with fabricating evidence in attempt to avoid prosecution.  What’s worse is if my client would have called me at the first sign of trouble, or any time before the client allegedly fabricated evidence for that matter, the case would have been rather easy to handle and there would not have been any criminal charges. 

Here is a good example, although not involving white collar crime.  Client A is charged with sexually touching his teenage step-daughter.  Client B is charged with raping a young child.  Client A made was called by the police and agreed to make a statement.  Client B called my office at the first sign of trouble.  We met with officials and he denied any involvement but was not subject to intense questioning.  Client A was arrested and his family hire me afterwards.  Client B was never charged and the investigation was closed.  While I was able to keep Client A out of prison (even though this was almost impossible to do) he had to pay my office about 6 or more times what Client B paid me.  So, if nothing else, it pays to hire an attorney first. 

Another quick example.  Client C is arrested for $3000 of credit card fraud.  While he made a statement after arrest, he would have had an amazing defense without the statement.  Client D is accused of $150,000 in credit card fraud.  He hires me before turning himself in and I am able to get the charges torn up before he turns himself in and I work out a great settlement with the credit card companies that is interest free.  Once again, Client D pays me much less than Client C. 

Bottom line, call an attorney ASAP if you even think you could be suspected of any criminal activity.

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