One of the critical elements in the prosecution for a fraud case is knowledge and intent. Without any direct evidence out of the mouth of the person who’s being charged with committing that offense, prosecutors are almost certainly going to have to rely upon circumstantial evidence to prove knowledge and intent that a fraud is being committed.
Because of this, a person should never talk to any investigator about an alleged fraud without first consulting an experienced Virginia federal government fraud attorney they trust. Most likely, it will benefit a person to have an attorney present during questioning so that the attorney can shut down any questioning they feel as though the questioning is going to yield answers that might result in evidence being used against the client.
Dealing with the federal authorities requires a certain knowledge base and experience level that is different than that which is needed at the state level. Because there are so many different ways that a government prosecution can proceed, it takes somebody who knows the specifics of what could happen pre-indictment, what could happen at the grand jury level, and what could happen post-indictment. All of these different phases present unique opportunities for the defendant to either soften his or her landing, or establish innocence with the government prosecutors.
There are several layers in these kinds of cases that can make them challenging. The first is simply the volume of evidence. In many cases, an attorney will have thousands or tens of thousands of documents that an attorney and his staff need to review before entertaining any kind of negotiations regarding a plea agreement with the government. That takes a lot of time. People hire our firm because we’ve got a team of people behind us who can help to navigate through the sea of documents that’s almost always associated with charges of this nature.
In addition, sentencing guidelines, especially in fraud cases, can be very complicated because one particular element of the sentencing guidelines—the loss amount—is not always black and white and can be discussed with the government or the court in determining an appropriate sentencing recommendation. Just because the government alleges a certain loss amount doesn’t mean that that’s what the loss amount was. It takes somebody with a significant white-collar background to evaluate the alleged loss amounts versus the actual loss amounts and be able to make that argument successfully.
Clients choose to work with an experienced attorney in cases like this because they have peace of mind that the attorney will have done all of it before. They will know the ins and outs of the federal system both before indictments are issued and after. Experience in cases like this is absolutely key and it generally benefits a person’s defense to have a person with many years of experience dealing with high-end government criminal litigation. That experience gives them some comfort knowing that if there’s a way out of whatever it is that they’re being charged with, their government fraud attorney will be able to find it.