Getting charged with a federal bribery in Washington, DC is an extremely serious offense. These types of cases are very high priority for the DC U.S. Attorney’s office. The government will dedicate a lot of time and resources into investigating these cases. Therefore, a person that has been charged, or is under suspicion of, federal bribery should call and consult with a DC federal bribery lawyer right away. Start protecting yourself early on in the process. Even if you’re not sure you’re being investigated, still speak with an attorney to mitigate potential damage.
Firstly, investigation is key in these types of cases. A DC federal bribery and public corruption lawyer must quickly understand who the key players are and try to talk with those people. They need to find out what e-mails and other sorts of evidence of communication are out there and examine those. Financial records need to be preserved.
As a DC federal bribery and public corruption attorney, it is important to immediately inform clients, and associates of clients, that all records are to be preserved; all e-mails, records of phone conversations, everything needs to be preserved. Nothing is to be destroyed because that can be viewed as obstruction of justice once people know there’s an investigation going on.
There may be evidence that is helpful in those communications. Additionally, the individual does not want to take any actions that might be perceived as consciousness of guilt. Any attempt to destroy evidence could be viewed as consciousness of guilt, which could ultimately result in self-incrimination. The fact that information is preserved once someone knows they are under investigation could be perceived as evidence that someone is not guilty and may be presented to a jury later.
To build a defense, one of the first steps a DC federal bribery and public corruption lawyer should do is interview all those potentially involved in the case. Building a strong defense requires looking at records of financial transactions, communication records, social media, and even wiretaps that may be involved.
There are all sorts of issues, including any number of Fourth Amendment issues, that may arise in a bribery case. For example, if computers or smartphones are seized and/or searched, an issue would be to determine what expectations of privacy are held by the owners of that equipment.
Fifth Amendment issues are significant when ambush-style interviews are conducted by law enforcement. The right to counsel is another issue because often people will retain counsel in anticipation of an investigation. That can become an issue when a specific criminal investigation arises and an interview is either attempted or conducted.
There are a host of defenses for bribery cases, from not having the intent to do anything wrong, to not disputing the facts of what happened but asserting that no law was broken. A DC bribery and public corruptions attorney sometimes tries to determine what actually occurred, if that constitutes a crime, and whether that constitutes a violation of a specific statute.
There are issues with respect to what constitutes a benefit. For example, questions regarding, the value of things and if the facts of a particular case fit those definitions, or is there something given in exchange for something else. Recently, in the Governor McDonnell case in Virginia, that became a highly contested issue. Those types of defenses are available; depending on the facts of a specific case, there could be other defenses.
As with any kind of criminal conduct, the best thing to do is to cease the conduct and contact an attorney before anything happens. A person should immediately contact an attorney whenever they believe they are the subject of an investigation. They need to make sure they discuss the situation with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can advise them of their rights and what they should or should not do going forward.
If the person fails to contact an attorney and waits to be arrested, at that point, they really need to contact a criminal defense attorney. A person should contact an attorney as soon as possible when there is an investigation or they committed an illegal act or learn they are being investigated.
Attorney-client privilege ensures that communication between an attorney and their client is protected. For example, there are privileged relationships between doctor and patient, priest and parishioner, therapist and patient, attorney and client. A person can share information with their attorney and anything they discuss with their attorney for the purpose of getting legal advice is strictly confidential. Even if a person has a discussion with an attorney and decides not to retain the attorney, that conversation is still confidential.