Professionals in a variety of different industries may end up under investigation for a variety of reasons. Executives and business owners are often subject to intense scrutiny because they have control over business resources and are in a position to misuse their authority.
If federal regulatory authorities believe that there may have been some insider trading or investment fraud, they may make their presence known by coming to an organization to request business records or by summoning someone for questioning. A reality that understandably shocks many individuals is that one of the biggest mistakes that those accused of a federal white-collar crime might make involves agreeing to sit down with investigators.
What someone says could lead to criminal charges
The standards for a federal investigation are different than those for a state investigation. Investigators may use different techniques and are subject to different forms of oversight. Those subject to an investigation need to know about one crucial difference if they want to protect themselves.
People who want to cooperate with an investigation may agree to sit down with local law enforcement officers or federal authorities believing they will do the public a service. When talking to local officials, they can potentially respond to the questions that would implicate them the most with claims that they don’t know the answer, a tactic that is moderately effective. However, using the exact same strategy when discussing a situation with federal investigators could directly lead to someone’s prosecution. Any misrepresentation or inaccurate statements made to federal investigators could lead to charges of providing federal investigators with false information.
Even a statement that one does not know the information could end up proven false and could be grounds for criminal prosecution. Therefore, those summoned to speak with federal investigators or subject to questioning will typically benefit from having an attorney present to help advocate for their rights during that encounter.
Small mistakes and slip-ups, which investigators may intentionally try to produce when speaking with someone, could ultimately be the reason that the federal government brings charges against them. Those who take the right steps before sitting down with federal investigators can avoid making mistakes that could come back to haunt them later.
Knowing what is at risk when an individual is subject to a federal investigation may help people better handle the scrutiny that they’re facing from federal authorities. Seeking legal guidance is a good way to gain that clarity.