White-collar crimes like embezzlement make for sensational media stories. But when your freedom is on the line, you need to get serious about your defense strategy. Yes, you’ll need to hire an embezzlement attorney. Equally important is the need to avoid mistakes that can lead to years of consequences.
Ask an Embezzlement Attorney: 7 Mistakes to Avoid During Your Defense Case
1. Speaking to Law Enforcement
One of the first mistakes people make in their cases is speaking to law enforcement investigators. It can be tempting to openly answer every question asked of you, but you must remember one critical point: you have the constitutional right to remain silent. This right should not be lightly dismissed. Instead, you should ask to have your lawyer by your side throughout any questioning session.
Your lawyer can help you sidestep traps investigators commonly lure defendants into. Again, remember you do not have to speak with law enforcement agents even if you are arrested or in jail. And you cannot be punished for refusing to answer questions.
2. Withholding Information
Choosing not to speak with investigators is a smart idea, but the same can’t be said when it comes to your attorney. You need to be honest with your defense counsel, and you need to share all the information you have. Surprises in an embezzlement case can turn your entire defense upside down. And the last person you want to keep in the dark is your lawyer.
Embezzlement attorneys are both advisors and confidants. Any conversation you have with them is privileged. If you’re worried about divulging sensitive information, look for a legal team with a proven record of fighting for the accused’s rights. Also, ensure you feel comfortable with your attorney. Their job is to protect your rights rather than pass judgment.
3. Tossing Evidence
It’s reasonable to think you can protect yourself by throwing away evidence. But just the opposite is true. Shredding a document or deleting an email can cast you in a suspicious light – even if you’re perfectly innocent.
It’s therefore important you hold every piece of evidence you have and turn it over to your attorney. This encourages the open discourse we mentioned just a moment ago and ensures your attorney has the details necessary to build a powerful defense.
4. Ignoring Potential Defenses
Many people accused of white-collar crimes assume they’re convicted before they even appear in court. A number of possible defenses, however, can be developed in response to criminal charges. When your freedom is on the line, you owe it to yourself to explore every possible option for avoiding sentencing at trial. Even minor details can keep the prosecutor from meeting their burden of proof.
Potential defenses include the absence of intent to commit a crime. Embezzlement is an intentional crime. If money went missing because of a misunderstanding or miscommunication, a simple mix-up occurred and not an actual crime.
You may also be able to show you were mentally incapacitated at the time of the embezzlement. To illustrate, if you were under the influence of medication that impacted your judgment, you may have mistakenly deposited money entrusted to you. The point here is that different arguments can be made to reflect your unique circumstances – and protect your freedom.
5. Assuming Prosecutors Always Follow the Law
Just as you may be prone to making a mundane mistake, prosecutors can do the same. Some withhold crucial evidence during discovery, while others rely on inadmissible evidence. These errors can endanger the state’s case and encourage a not guilty verdict from the court.
You can encourage this beneficial situation by following the instructions of your embezzlement defense lawyers in Houston. When your team tells you to make a specific statement or provide a particular piece of evidence, it’s important you do so. Such acts demonstrate to your lawyers and the court that you’re a responsible, trustworthy person who’s likely telling the truth about your case.
6. Skipping Your Court Dates
All criminal charges demand that you appear in court from time to time. Unless your attorney is able to resolve your case early by using a defense like police or prosecutorial mistakes, you’ll likely go to court multiple times. And if you miss one of these critical dates, the judge may issue a bench warrant for your arrest. Once in custody, you may remain in jail until your trial.
7. Merely Waiting for Court Dates to Arrive
On the other hand, you might obsess over your court dates and overlook the steps you can take with your attorney to craft an effective defense strategy. Examples of those steps include:
- Negotiating for a lesser charge or reduced sentence
- Filing motions to challenge the admissibility of state evidence
- Requesting copies of the state’s evidence against you
When charged with embezzlement, you should first consult with an experienced team of lawyers. Make sure they’re not afraid to take on the big cases. Then plan to proactively engage in your defense. This generally means avoiding common mistakes like speaking to investigators (without your lawyer present), tossing evidence, and assuming you have no defense. By engaging in open and honest communication with your lawyer, you can help fight for your rights.