Recently, I worked with a client who had committed a white-collar, federal crime. Clients such as these often have a hard time with criminal allegations. They are usually educated, well-respected members of society. It can be hard for them to accept being under any kind of investigation. Sometimes, they refuse to believe that their acts are even criminal.
Fortunately, I was able to help this client receive a probation sentence, avoiding imprisonment. Aside from a full acquittal, this was the best-case scenario under the circumstances. We took some early, necessary steps to help both the prosecutors and the judge have compassion toward my client.
Remember that no matter what, you always have a right to a criminal defense. So precious is this right, the state will even provide it for you. You can plead “not guilty” to any accusation, challenging the case against you.
Sometimes, however, it’s tough to prove your innocence. You know you’re guilty, and you know the evidence against you is irrefutable. It can be easier to avoid the struggle of building a defense, constantly searching for crafty ways to bypass allegations. If you’re guilty of a crime, and you want to move forward without a fight, here are some tips that can help you.
One of the best ways to endear yourself to prosecutors is to cooperate. Don’t fight; don’t argue; don’t make excuses. Answer all their questions truthfully. Be helpful. Join in on the investigation, acting as a part of the team. This transparency and contriteness will help your accusers respect you, possibly leading to a more lenient sentence.
On the other hand, don’t be a lapdog.If authorities accuse you of something you didn’t do or trump up charges, defend yourself. Otherwise, give them whatever they want, as long as it’s honest.
My recent client told the U.S. attorneys everything she knew. She gave up the property she’d purchased with her ill-gotten funds. She made a plea to others that shared this money, convincing them to give back their portions. There were hard-copy files in a storage unit, and my client gave the keys over to her accusers. This gave them full access to the evidence against her. Ultimately, prosecutors appreciated the lack of struggle, and they gave my client a lighter sentence as a result.
Criminal trials often have “winners” and “losers,” no matter the outcome. Each side “fights” for a “victory.” It is a combative experience.
In any conflict, it’s easy to dehumanize your opponent. Prosecutors see defendants as lowly criminals, and defendants see prosecutors as the oppressor. One way to cut through all this tension is to humanize yourself before your accusers. Allow yourself to be honest and vulnerable. Show them how humble and apologetic you can be, and they may stop seeing you as the criminal who deserves a harsh punishment.
Remember, don’t focus on making excuses or defending yourself. Doing so could raise bristles and cause contention with your accusers. Instead, you can explain, without overtly defending yourself, how you came to make these poor decisions.
My client accomplished this through a letter of remorse. She wrote about her past and how it shaped her into someone that eventually made criminal choices. Prior to any trial, sentencing, or probationary interview, we submitted the letter to all concerned parties. We gave a copy to the probationary office, the U.S. attorney, and the FBI. It helped. By demonstrating her sincere regret and revealing her troubles, my client was able to pull the heartstrings of her accusers and the judge. They began seeing her as a person in need, and this helped shape her lighter sentence.
Undergo Psychiatric Evaluation
To help bolster your defense, it’s helpful to show prosecutors your state of mind at the time of the offense. Even hardened criminals can legitimately claim that, during the committing of a crime, they weren’t mentally sound. This claim can be especially true for white-collar criminals. Often, these are people who have no prior criminal history. Furthermore, they probably have years of experience working in their field, completely free of any other accusations. Something drove them into risky, criminal behavior.
Through a psychiatric evaluation, you can help prosecutors see what was happening at the time. Perhaps you were under sudden, severe financial stress, and you believed committing a crime was your only way out. Some mental illnesses stay dormant until later in life. You could have suddenly suffered a mental health crisis, causing you to make choices you wouldn’t have otherwise. A mental health professional can help verify such claims.
This is exactly the step I took with my client. We were able to prove, with the help of a psychiatrist, that my client was under mental strain at the time of the event. This helped prove that she is not a continued threat or a career criminal. Her mental state was only temporary, and it would be unlikely for her to commit a similar crime in the future.
The most important thing you can do with any criminal allegation, whether you’re guilty or not, is getting ahead of it. The moment it looks like you’re in trouble, employ your right to remain silent and contact a lawyer. The quicker you move, the quicker your attorney can start working to protect you.
When you are guilty and ready to face the consequences, do whatever you can before your accusers do. In the case of my client, we submitted the remorse letter immediately. Moving fast with your apology and cooperation sets a tone. Humbling and humanizing yourself up front shape how the authorities view you. You may find them working toward helping you rather than hitting you with the harshest penalties.
Acting quickly can also help protect you from further legal woes. If there are others implicated in your crime, your “co-defendants,” you have no control over what they will do. They may try to place all the blame on you, attempting to absolve themselves. Maybe they attempt to paint you as the evil mastermind, trying to influence the prosecutor’s opinion of you. The quicker you can show the authorities your true, apologetic nature, the easier it will be to bypass claims designed to take you down.
If you’ve been accused of a crime, and don’t wish to contest your charges, reach out to our office today. We may be able to help you build an honest defense while still giving you a chance at a lighter sentence. For a free consultation, call us today at (949) 264-0696, or contact us online.