Hi I’m Eric Lanigan with Lanigan and Lanigan attorneys in Winter Park. We’ve been involved in white collar defense where we don’t have any disagreement about what our client did. The real issue is whether or not that activity falls within the definition of the activity or falls within the scope of the activity which is to be rendered illegal under a given statute.
Yes, white collar criminal defense law is complex and it’s imperative that you choose your attorney wisely. Because the activity that we’re talking about may not even have existed at the time the statute was written.
White Collar Law Practice Area
White collar crime changes and often, a crime that may not have involved jail time, now, today, at the point when you were charged with it is now includes jail time:
- Stock Trading Dishonesty
- Senior Scam
- Professional Licensure Issues
- Money Laundering
- Ponzi Schemes
So it’s an entirely different ballgame. You’ve got to make sure that your lawyer first understands the fundamentals, or let’s say more than the fundamentals, but clearly understands criminal law and criminal procedure.
What Industry Are You Charged In?
But maybe even more importantly, that they understand the nature of that particular industry and clearly understand exactly what it is you were doing that is supposedly criminal in nature.
The first time I even became involved in defending what we would call white collar crime was for somebody who was in the securities business and they were selling a particular investment opportunity to their clientele.
Their financial planning clientele, mostly senior citizens, and there was no doubt about what they were selling and the product was right there literally in black and white.
And I was retained by the criminal lawyer, who was an excellent criminal lawyer, in fact I would say in our area at the time was probably one of the top three or four criminal lawyers in all of Central Florida in my opinion.
Florida Securities Act Knowledge
And they brought me in because they said quite frankly they didn’t know anything about the securities industry. And a lot of the securities techno-babble that the prosecutors were talking about he quite frankly had no idea what it was they were even talking about. So he brought me in as the sort of co-counsel to understand what it was this guy was actually being charged with doing.
And then thereby having an understanding of the nature of his business and what business activity he was actually involved in, did his activity fall within the purview of what was prohibited under the Florida Securities Act?
So at that point you come to realize that it’s not just understanding criminal procedure and criminal law and the ability to put on a criminal trial because all of that’s great. But it will do you no good if you really don’t even understand what it is your client’s charged with doing. And why either: a.) what he was doing is not illegal, or b.) what he was doing is not even what’s covered under the statute.
How Long Can a White Collar Trial Last?
Well if you want to go to the extreme, there are cases of white collar crime that have literally gone on for months, if not even years. Now that doesn’t mean that it’s every day, 8 hours a day for a year. But in many of these cases you might have where it’s in trial for two or three weeks. And then everybody comes back maybe a month or two later including the jury and you pick up where you left off. And you go through that process for months and months and months.
I’ve been lucky enough not to be in that situation, but I know another lawyer who was handling a type of white collar crime and the trial lasted six months and that is an excruciating process. What I’m suggesting is that if you’re involved in white collar crime and you’re considering talking with someone who can take your case and you’ve never met with them, take the time to get to know your attorney.
Find out the experience of the attorney. Be sure that he or she knows and practices in the area of law you’ve been charged with. If you’re looking for a specific rate, or have a budget, realize that you’re not looking at the seriousness of your case. You can face jail time, fines, loss of license, business disruption and many, many additional serious problems.