The federal criminal code has hundreds of complex sections which apply to many types of business activity. It is, figuratively speaking, a minefield. People in business can inadvertently run afoul of the criminal code or get caught on issues with federal investigators or prosecutors that can cause major stress and distractions. In criminal investigations, the stakes are high and the action usually moves quickly. People we usually trust – police, prosecutors, investigators – are suddenly on the other side. Few experiences are as harrowing as a criminal investigation or case. The stakes are also high in the world of federal government contracts, where companies are under increased pressure in view of customer demands and the increased compliance environment.
When one’s reputation, business, employment, and personal freedom are at stake, the matter is far too important to entrust to a lawyer lacking experience with the defense of criminal cases. A defendant or target of a federal investigation needs legal counsel with significant experience actually litigating such cases in court.
Unlike other forms of criminal law, white collar law requires active criminal defense attorneys combined with civil attorneys who truly know the substantive business laws at issue. Albo & Oblon has a unique group of criminal defense attorneys who have that blended experience working with a business lawyers who team together to protect companies, executives and employees in a broad array of such cases. The Firm has, for example, five former prosecutors who work seamlessly with leading civil lawyers to provide unique capabilities and assistance in these serious cases.
The best way to deal with a criminal case is to avoid it in the first place. For businesses, avoiding criminal liability or compliance issues requires an effective ethics and compliance program to avoid the mistakes that can result in a criminal investigation. It also requires a defensive plan for how to deal with an investigation or a possible violation, if it happens. Effective ethics/compliance programs cannot be made up on the fly. They must be in place and be an active part of the company’s operations. This is one topic in which the old saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” is certainly true. Albo & Oblon’s lawyers have counseled clients on ethics and compliance programs, and have lead seminars nationally on how to effectively implement such programs.
Whether an FBI agent comes to “just talk,” or a formal grand jury subpoena is served, you will want Albo & Oblon’s defense team immediately on your side. (No, engaging an attorney does not signal to the investigator that you are guilty. Government agents expect businesses to turn to attorneys to reply to government inquiries, if only to avoid misunderstandings). Properly handled, investigation can be and often are closed without the filing of criminal charges. Criminal charges are not inevitable, even when a company or businessperson “did something wrong.” Prosecutors do have a lot of discretion. However, with the stakes as high as they are in criminal law, things shouldn’t be left to chance and “winging it” without a competent white collar defense team is unwise.
Albo & Oblon attorneys have defended business clients at meetings with FBI agents, prosecutors, and at legislative hearings in the context of suspected business crimes. The Firm also helps companies respond to IG inquiries and subpoenas. We have also prepared our clients for grand jury testimony and have contacted federal authorities to help define the nature of the problem and delineate strategy. Our goal is always to move our client’s case off the “criminal track” so that any dispute can be resolved on a more civilized basis. Since we are located centrally in the Washington metropolitan area, we also have the local presence to meet with and address local issues as they arise for federal government contractors with offices located in other regions of the country.
When a company or one of its employees is charged with a crime, Albo & Oblon plans and executes a vigorous defense and mitigation strategy. Simultaneously, we continue to dissuade the government from proceeding with the prosecution. Few federal cases go to trial. Sentencing guidelines have the practical effect of encouraging even the innocent to plead guilty rather than face the risk of a truly outrageous disposition. Thus, influencing even the subsection of a criminal law used in an indictment can literally change one’s life.
Our firm features five lawyers with prosecution experience in federal and state courts. They know how prosecutors think because they used to be one. Moreover, attorneys from our firm are in court almost every day defending those accused of crimes. Most lawyers who defend white collar crimes simply do not have a sufficient volume of cases to come close to matching this. Unlike them, our lawyers are fresh, not rusty. We are familiar with our courts, judges, juries, prosecutors, and criminal procedure because we have lawyers in court almost every day.
Examples of White Collar Cases We Defend
The federal and state governments prosecute contract fraud, defective pricing, suspension and debarment violations, kickbacks and bribes, false claims, bid rigging, collusive pricing, and subcontractor violations among other things. Federal contractors in particular face potential issues for example under the Procurement Integrity Act, False Claims Act, False Statements Act, and may need to respond to a broad array of issues in dealing with the government.
Computer crimes are actively pursed by state and federal prosecutors. We defend allegations of criminal bulk e-mail (“spam”), e-commerce fraud, computer fraud, computer trespass, computer invasion of privacy, computer theft, and “phishing.”
Albo & Oblon is a leader in this area of the law. For example, we successfully defended a person accused of sending out bulk e-mail (“spam”) in the nation’s first felony spam trial.
Our attorneys uniquely understand the responsibilities and requirements of public officials — four Albo & Oblon attorneys also serve as public officials themselves in the state and local legislatures and in the judiciary. They can help those charged with violations properly defend themselves.
The heat of politics and a campaign frequently cause allegations of wrongdoing to be leveled. Too often, politicians address inquires into these areas using their political advisors. When prosecutors or other law enforcement get involved, however, it is time to bring in good white collar defense lawyers. To the extent we can, we work with the political team in an effort to mitigate damages from an investigation or indictment.
Although called by many names – larceny, embezzlement, fraud, and false pretenses – the act of taking personal property of another by trespass with intent to permanently deprive that person of the property is a crime.
Often, a federal prosecutor will indict under the vague wire fraud and mail fraud statutes to lessen their burden of proof. In the “white collar” context, it is common for a business dispute to result in claims of larceny by a competitor or customer in an effort to gain a civil advantage. Albo & Oblon defends all allegations of fraud and larceny, and has experience addressing financial crimes.
Price fixing, bid rigging and illegal boycotting are all illegal under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. Our firm defends all aspects of criminal antitrust law.