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Criminal Investigations

What is a criminal investigation in a business context?

A criminal investigation in a business context refers to an investigation conducted by law enforcement or regulatory authorities into potential illegal activity committed by individuals associated with the business or the business itself, such as fraud, embezzlement, money laundering, bribery, corruption, and other white-collar crimes.

A criminal investigation in a business context can be initiated by various law enforcement agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), among others. These agencies may use various investigative techniques, such as subpoenas, search warrants, wiretaps, or undercover operations, to gather evidence of alleged criminal activity.

In the business context, a criminal investigation can have significant consequences for the organization and its stakeholders, including damage to reputation, financial losses, regulatory penalties, and criminal prosecution. Therefore, businesses and their leaders must comply with all applicable laws and regulations, implement adequate internal controls and monitoring systems, and promptly address potential violations or misconduct. It is vital to seek legal advice from experienced attorneys who can guide the business through the investigation process and help mitigate any potential liabilities.

Does your business need help with a criminal investigation? Schedule your consultation today with a top bet-the-company litigation attorney.

What legal issues typically arise in criminal investigations of businesses?

The following disputes are among the most common in criminal investigations into a business:

  • Search and seizure: Law enforcement agencies may use search warrants or subpoenas to obtain documents, electronic data, or other evidence of the alleged criminal activity. However, the business and its employees have certain constitutional rights regarding search and seizure.
  • Self-incrimination: In a criminal investigation, individuals often face a difficult choice between cooperating with investigators and risking self-incrimination or facing the consequences for obstructing an investigation.
  • Privilege: Legal privileges, such as attorney-client privilege, work product doctrine, or accountant-client privilege, may protect certain communications or documents from disclosure to law enforcement during a criminal investigation. The scope and applicability of these privileges can be complex and require legal analysis.
  • Corporate liability: A business may be held criminally liable for the actions of its employees or agents under various legal theories. Therefore, a criminal investigation into the actions of individuals associated with the business may have significant consequences for the business itself.
  • Plea negotiations: In some cases, individuals or businesses facing criminal charges may seek to negotiate a plea agreement with the prosecution to avoid the risk of trial and potentially reduce the severity of the charges or penalties.

What is bet-the-company litigation, and how does it apply to criminal investigations?

When a company faces legal action that seriously threatens its future, its survival often depends on winning a single, cost-effective verdict. By necessity, such a company needs counsel experienced in bet-the-company litigation. Bet-the-company cases are often highly confidential, involve multiple parties, and entail complex discovery. High-stakes circumstances like these require risk-reward analysis and comprehensive day-to-day strategizing well above the requirements of traditional business litigation because the company’s existence depends on victory.

While the legal requirements to prove or defend against a case of criminal investigations remain the same, the issues are complex and implicate much more money. For example, mergers and acquisitions, accounting irregularities, changing regulatory interpretations, and antitrust matters may all implicate issues related to criminal investigations.

What are relevant laws related to criminal investigations of businesses in Florida?

Law enforcement agencies and prosecutors use several Florida laws to investigate and prosecute businesses. Some key examples include:

  • The Florida Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO)permits the investigation and prosecution of businesses that participate in a pattern of illegal activity. This law carries severe penalties, including imprisonment and fines.
  • The Florida False Claims Act, which criminalizes businesses making false or fraudulent claims to state or local government to obtain payments or benefits. Violations of this law can result in penalties such as fines.
  • The Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act prohibits businesses from engaging in deceptive or unfair trade practices. This law allows for civil and criminal penalties, including imprisonment and fines.
  • The Florida Money Laundering Act prohibits businesses from laundering proceeds of criminal activity to disguise the illegal funds as legitimate. Violations of this law can result in severe penalties, including imprisonment and fines.
  • The Florida Computer Crimes Act prohibits businesses from committing computer-related crimes such as hacking, cyberstalking, and identity theft. Violations of this law can result in fines and imprisonment.

Have more questions about a criminal investigation-related situation?

Crucially, this overview of criminal investigations does not begin to cover all the laws implicated by this issue or the factors that may compel the application of such laws. Every case is unique, and the laws can produce different outcomes depending on the individual circumstances.

Jimerson Birr attorneys guide our clients to help make informed decisions while ensuring their rights are respected and protected. Our lawyers are highly trained and experienced in the nuances of the law, so they can accurately interpret statutes and case law and holistically prepare individuals or companies for their legal endeavors. Through this intense personal investment and advocacy, our lawyers will help resolve the issue’s complicated legal problems efficiently and effectively.

Having a Jimerson Birr attorney on your side means securing a team of seasoned, multi-dimensional, cross-functional legal professionals. Whether it is a transaction, an operational issue, a regulatory challenge, or a contested legal predicament that may require court intervention, we remain a tireless advocate every step of the way. Being a value-added law firm means putting the client at the forefront of everything we do. We use our experience to help our clients navigate even the most complex problems and come out the other side triumphant.

If you want to understand your case, the merits of your claim or defense, potential monetary awards, or the amount of exposure you face, you should speak with a qualified Jimerson Birr lawyer. Our experienced team of attorneys is here to help. Call Jimerson Birr at (904) 389-0050 or use the contact form to set up a consultation.

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