The criminal defense attorneys at McLemore, Reddell & Story, P.L.L.C. represent individuals in Houston and surrounding areas, and statewide throughout Texas, who have been charged with white collar criminal offenses at the state or federal level.
What is White Collar Crime?
White collar crime is generally characterized as crimes that are accomplished through means of deception, as opposed to violence or the threat of force. Historically, white collar crimes included common law offenses such as bribery, embezzlement, forgery, fraud and perjury. Today, most crimes are defined by state and federal statute, or by the agencies charged with regulating different activities and industries, such as securities, banking, insurance, corporate activity, health care and the paying of taxes. These statutes are lengthy and complicated, and the offenses they outline are highly technical. Even experts in the field can disagree on whether a particular action is a violation of the law or not.
A prime example is tax avoidance versus tax evasion. It is not against the law to try to minimize your tax burden, and it is perfectly lawful to hire accountants and tax preparers who try to lower your taxes by taking advantage of available deductions, tax shelters, and other practices. In order to be guilty of tax evasion, you have to intend to pay less taxes than you actually owe. But if you embark on an aggressive strategy of legal tax avoidance, will the IRS think you are trying to evade paying what you owe? More importantly, can they prove it to a jury, or can you defend yourself against such a charge?
Don’t Help the Government Build Its Case Against You
Because white collar crimes can be so complicated, the government often undergoes a lengthy investigation before charges are ever filed. During this time, the police are gathering evidence and building a case around a theory that you are guilty of breaking the law. They may in fact seek to interview you as part of their investigation. It may be impossible for you to know whether you are being questioned as a witness or as a subject or target of an investigation. One thing you can rely on is that the police are asking questions in order to ferret out crime, and they are experts at eliciting incriminating or merely contradictory statements that they can use against you.
Can you refuse to answer questions? There may be situations when you will be required to answer some questions, and there may be situations where your silence can be used against you. One right you always have is to speak to a lawyer or have one present before you answer any questions. This is a right you should always exercise before answering any questions. Be especially wary if you are talking to federal authorities or if a federal crime is involved, because you can easily be charged with making a false statement under federal criminal law if you are not careful.
Seek Experienced Legal Representation
Contact our office if you have been arrested or as soon as you believe you are under investigation for a crime. We can intervene early in a case and determine what your status is, and possibly influence what charges are filed or whether charges are filed at all. Our lawyers are former prosecutors and defense attorneys with experience in a wide range of matters, including white collar offenses charged in state and federal court. For immediate assistance, contact David Reddell at McLemore, Reddell & Story, P.L.L.C. for a free consultation regarding your matter.